Bridge Collapse May Clear Budget Roadblocks

<p>A history of speedbumps have hindered transit funding in Minnesota, but after the Interstate 35W bridge collapse, the state's roads may finally get the maintenance money they need.</p>
August 15, 2007, 1pm PDT | Nate Berg
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"Over the past 20 years, Minnesota's transportation funding for roads, bridges and transit has failed to keep pace with needs -- a point on which a broad consensus had emerged even before the collapse of the Interstate 35W bridge. In the aftermath of that disaster, there are signs that longstanding disagreements over how to raise and where to spend more transportation revenue may at last be resolved."

"With every passing year, Minnesota faces an estimated $1.7 billion shortfall in funding needed to meet demands for maintenance, repairs and improvements. This is no pork-barrel pol's wish list. The projects on it are the hard-headed calculation of inspectors, engineers and analysts."

"A 10-year review of spending at the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) shows that money for road and bridge construction has gone up every single year, no matter the state's economic straits. In 1997 the state spent $368 million on road and bridge construction. By 2007, it had soared to $760 million."

"Compare that with operation and maintenance of said roads and bridges, which stood at $213 million in 1997 and, by 2007, with a few dips and peaks, hit $218 million."

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Published on Saturday, August 11, 2007 in Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune
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