Minnesota would like to add capacity to its road and bridge network, and on Nov. 14 Gov. Mark Dayton announced the release of a high volume of funding.
Dayton plans on spending $300 million to help spearhead an effort Minnesota calls the “Corridors of Commerce” program, where the goal is to add lanes rather than repair them. A list of 400 recommendations was chopped down to 10. Special borrowing approved by the state legislature generated the money, but Dayton said more revenues would have to be raised moving forward if the program is going to survive.
“This will give Minnesotans an idea of what’s possible with an increase in transportation funding,” said Dayton. “I don’t know if it’s going to be possible to do in 2014. I’m certainly willing to try.”
Work will begin next summer, and the featured job will be a new freeway connection on Highway 610 between Highway 81 and I-94. The price tag is $100 million. Expanding Highway 14 to four lanes between North Mankato and Nicollet and east of Owatonna also will be carried out. Another project will consist of adding a shoulder on I-694 that drivers can use on some occasions, and new passing lanes on Highway 34.
Dayton said the state is “$10 billion short of what is needed over 20 years” to maintain the system. A five-cent increase in the state gas tax would generate another $78 million a year, but “is not enough to get us where we need to go,” Dayton said.