The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

July 29, 2013

Highway plan gets hearing

(Continued)

The refrain seemed to be that MnDOT doesn’t have enough money to satisfy the public. The transportation commissioner noted on the teleconference that the plan isn't MnDOT's "vision," but only what it could accomplish with what it's given.

Attendee Richard Keir of Mankato, a bicycling advocate, got that message.

"If you want to live in a nice state, it's going to cost money," he said.

In the first 10 years of the plan, maintenance projects will gobble up more than two-thirds of revenues. It gets worse in the second 10 years, when it will take a projected 89 percent of revenues. This would, of course, change if revenues increase.

Genelin said MnDOT spent $5 million on a study of a mileage-tracking system, which would allow the state to tax motorists based on how far they drive, not on the gas they buy. This would help counteract the trend of declining gas consumption with more fuel-efficient vehicles.

But he said the recent controversy over NSA surveillance has reduced the public appetite for a tax of this sort.

The 20-year plan will be modified based on public comments next month, and if the commissioner approves it a final version will be posted online in September.

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