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DULUTH-A transportation advocacy group shared its predictions on Thursday that Northland roads will need a $2.7 billion investment that Minnesota politicians have no plan for.
The Minnesota Transportation Alliance shared its long–term concerns at an open forum that included local politicians and their opponents in the upcoming election.
Group representative Margaret Donahoe said, despite there being a "sticker shock", it is actually more expensive and less safe to maintain current roads that were built immediately after World War II and not replaced since.
The bottom line for District One (the Northland's region) is that during the next 20 years, $1.5 billion worth of revenue will brought in for construction, Donahoe said.
But the need is projected at $2.7 billion. That's a $1.2 billion gap, Donahoe said.
In the past construction costs have been offset by a gas tax. Now fuel efficient cars cause just as much wear and tear while bringing in less revenue, State Sen. Roger Reinert (DFL-Duluth) said.
"We have to have alternatives and one of the best alternatives is somehow figuring out how many miles do you drive. And then, basically, it's a user fee," Reinert said, taking about options.
"If you drive a certain amount of miles you're going to pay more to maintain the road system. If you don't drive many miles or don't drive at all you may pay little or nothing to maintain the road system," Reinert said.
Republican in attendance disagreed offering less specific tax reduction plans.
After a summer of flooding, however, most in the room at city hall admitted the importance of re-investing in state roads.
"I think that everybody in our region put on a vest and put on a hard hat and helped out,"
Walter Leu, District One State Aid Engineer with MnDOT, said.
"From the legislature and their special session – bipartisan support to provide matching funding funds. I mean we couldn't have done it without you. Thank you," Leu said.
A lot of the information is very numbers heavy. Check out the Transportation Alliance's website to get really into depth.
Also, some politicians do not think transportation will be a priority during this legislative session. The state already owes about $4.8 billion dollars to schools, on a tobacco bond, and its structural deficit.