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home : opinion : editorial
April 21, 2019

3/13/2019 10:28:00 AM
Funding road work

Take a drive through Windom on Highway 60 and you will be very fortunate to miss a pothole, or at least a very rough stretch of road.
It has been a tough winter for all highways and streets. But let's not forget, the highway was not in pristine condition heading into the snow and ice season. It has been a rough stretch of road for a few years now.
Don't blame local MnDOT crews. They are doing their level best with the funding that is available.
The Windom Highway 60 stretch is really just a symptom of a much bigger problem - inadequate highway funding statewide. And, when we refer to state highway dollars, we are reminded that this funding source also is designed to play a major role in county highway funding.
Ask virtually any county commissioner, or highway department employee and you will quickly learn that Minnesota counties have been dealing with major transportation funding shortfalls for decades.
We know Highway 60 is targeted for a mill-and-overlay project this summer. That will help immensely, but there is no doubt that this project - or better yet, a complete rebuild - should have occurred a couple of years ago.
Then again, this is not a case of Windom being the only Minnesota city receiving a highway repair a few years late. It is happening in every corner of the state.
The issue lawmakers face is solving the highway funding puzzle.
A few weeks ago, Gov. Tim Walz outlined a transportation funding plan that includes a pair of 10-cent-per-gallon gas tax increases stretched over two years. The announcement created some buzz, so Citizen Online ran a poll asking readers what amount of gas tax they would support to fund transportation needs. These were the results:
• 0-cent: 52 percent.
• 5-cent: 20 percent.
• 10-cent: 15 percent.
• 15-cent: 13 percent.
If this poll is any indication, it would appear that a gas tax has slim support in Minnesota. That, in turn, means that Minnesota lawmakers had better start thinking of other options for filling the funding gap for state road and bridge improvements.
Otherwise, we can anticipate more bumpy highways and a far greater share of our county tax dollars going toward county highway costs traditionally covered by the state.
The status quo is not acceptable.
    - Rahn Larson

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