Highway 14 construction delays

With funding short and fatal crashes triple the statewide average, transportation officials put plastic delineators between the opposing lanes of Highway 14 west of North Mankato. Those will come down once a four-lane expansion project is completed. 

A new report says a sustained $600 million annual increase in highway and bridge construction work in Minnesota would boost the state’s total economic output by $1.45 billion — a return of $2.40 for every $1 in spending.

The American Road and Transportation Builders Association also says the increased highway investment would create and sustain an additional 12,238 jobs.

The Washington D.C.-based group is the largest national trade association representing companies involved in highway and bridge construction.

The report was based on information from the U.S. Department of Commerce.

During a press conference releasing the state report, Patrick Baker, director of government and institutional affairs for Greater Mankato Growth, said more investment in roads and bridges is vital for outstate Minnesota.

"As the Legislature and the governor consider investments that will provide jobs and improve the state’s economy, we urge them to keep in mind the positive impact improvements to our state’s highways and bridges will have,” Baker said. “Especially in Greater Minnesota, highways are the lifelines that keep our businesses and industries growing.”

After the construction sector, the biggest economic impacts from an increase of $600 million per year in the state’s transportation infrastructure would be seen in the manufacturing ($204.8 million increase in output) and real estate ($90.8 million) sectors. The greatest number of jobs would be supported or created in the retail trade (1,220 jobs) health care (774 jobs) and manufacturing (746 jobs) sectors, after construction.

“Our members understand clearly how important it is to have safe roads and bridges that are built to modern standards,” said Doug Peterson, president of the Minnesota Farmers Union. “Our growth and success depends on shipping commodities throughout the state and beyond. If we don’t have roads and bridges that are strong enough to handle heavy equipment and the many loads we need to move, farmers can’t expand their operations and expand their contribution to the state’s economy.” 

The Minnesota Chamber of Commerce supports passage of a 10-year comprehensive transportation funding package that provides increased investment in the state’s multi-modal transportation infrastructure.

“MnDOT just announced that the estimated shortfall in state highway funding has increased, reflecting the impact of construction inflation,” said Margaret Donahoe, executive director of the Minnesota Transportation Alliance. “Without action by the Legislature, MnDOT will not have enough money to maintain the system we have, let alone expand and improve the system to meet all of the safety and congestion problems around the state."

Follow Tim Krohn on Twitter @TimKrohn

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