More than half of the key transportation improvements identified by TRIP as being critically needed in the Twin Cities area are unfunded, jeopardizing future quality of life gains in the region due to an inadequate transportation system. These transportation projects would support the region’s future development by improving access, safety and conditions according to a new report released March 26 by TRIP, a Washington, D.C.,-based national transportation organization.
The TRIP report “Project Green Light: Moving Minnesota’s Top Transportation Improvements Forward,” lists critically needed transportation improvements in the Twin Cities region and in Greater Minnesota, including projects to operate, maintain, build, expand or modernize roads, highways, bridges, mass-transit systems, rail, bicycle and pedestrian facilities. These improvements, which were selected by TRIP,
would enhance development throughout the region and the state by increasing personal and commercial mobility, easing congestion, improving safety and conditions and enhancing Minnesota’s desirability as a place to live, visit and do business.
But the report finds that most of the critically needed projects in the Twin Cities area as well as in Greater Minnesota lack adequate funding. TRIP rated each needed transportation improvement as either having a green light, a yellow light or a red light in terms of the availability of funding.
In the Twin Cities area, TRIP finds that only one of the region’s 20 critically needed transportation projects has a green light, to signify that full funding is available or is anticipated to be available by 2019; five projects are rated a yellow light because either a portion of needed funding is anticipated to be available by 2019 or the funding is uncertain ; and 14 projects are rated a red light because funding is not currently available and, under current funding, is not anticipated to be available through 2019.
"Throughout Minnesota there are many needed transportation projects that are ready to go, but we don’t have the funding to begin construction,” said Russell Hess, political coordinator of the Laborers District Council of Minnesota & North Dakota. “Now is not the time to take our foot off the gas. The legislature must invest in transportation this year to help create jobs and keep Minnesota economically competitive."
Other projects identified by TRIP that are currently on hold are:
- Pavement repairs on I-94 between St. Paul and Minneapolis;
- Adding I-35W managed lanes between TH 36 and TH 10 in Ramsey County;
- Bus rapid transit in the St. Paul/Minneapolis region;
- Adding eastbound auxiliary lanes to I-494 from France Avenue to I-35W in the Twin Cities;
- Adding managed lanes on I-94 between TH 55 and I-35E;
- Adding managed lanes on I-35W between downtown Minneapolis and TH 36;
- Flyover ramp from northbound I-35W to westbound I-494 in Hennepin County;
- Extending I-35E managed lanes from Little Canada Road to north of TH 96 in the Twin Cities area;
- Adding managed lanes on I-494 in the southwest Twin Cities metro area; and
- Adding managed lanes on TH 169 between I-494 and Marshall Road in Hennepin and Scott counties.
The report also said a minimum of an additional $10 million annually is needed to support routine maintenance of the region’s roads and bridges.