Editorial: Road funding needs to be a priority

As the 2014 elections get underway, more people are starting to pay attention to the lifeblood of our state: our transportation system.

More media outlets are covering transportation in Minnesota, shedding some much-needed light on a serious (and growing) issue. Transportation funding has not kept pace with an increasing need to maintain and, in some cases, expand our roadways.

That’s why we need to send a clear message to politicians and lawmakers. We need them to get serious about transportation funding and solutions next year.

Minnesota Democrats already announced their intent to focus on transportation during the next legislative session, and Republicans have signaled their intent to follow suit. But politician promises so far removed from the Capitol aren’t enough when transportation has repeatedly been brought up, and eventually ignored, over the years.

State and federal transportation dollars have either stayed flat or decreased over the past decade and more. Earlier this year, the Center for Rural Policy and Development found Minnesota will face a $12 billion shortfall in transportation funding over the next two decades.

That’s not good enough when we rely so much on roadways, even with a marked decrease in people driving cars. We still transport a huge amount of goods, including many of the hogs that arrive at Hormel Foods Corp.’s Austin plant.

There’s a clear need for more funds and workers to maintain Minnesota’s roadways. We need clear, reasonable solutions that don’t rely on budgetary gimmicks or empty promises. Both Gov. Mark Dayton and his Republican challenger, Jeff Johnson, recently gave their views on transportation but that isn’t enough. We need clear, reasoned solutions from not only our upcoming candidates for election but our state legislators currently serving the state. Please, follow through on transportation next session.

 

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