MINNEAPOLIS - It's summer time, otherwise known as road construction season in Minnesota. But planned projects to fix up area highways could soon come to a screeching halt.
After the worst winter ever, it's no secret many of our roads and highways are in desperate need of a little TLC. But plans to do that work may get the red light if Congress does not take action soon. "It would be a massive failure of the public trust for us not to come to an agreement" said Congressman Keith Ellison
While many water-logged communities are praying for flooding to recede, what may soon come to a trickle is federal transportation funding. The Highway Trust Fund will begin to dry up August 1st. That fund is what's being used to pay for $580 million worth of road repairs in Minnesota this year alone.
"This is not a small problem. This is a big problem we get over all about 40 percent of funding for transit in the state comes from the feds," said Abbey Bryduck, a transportation policy analyst with Minnesota Association of Counties.
Bryduck and a group including several Minnesota County Commissioners traveled to Washington D.C. two weeks ago to call on lawmakers to reach an agreement to fix the looming transportation funding shutdown. "We're kind of holding our breath to make sure that it happens" said Bryduck.
The major chunk of the federal transportation money comes from the 18.4 cents per gallon federal gas tax you pay every time you fill up. The tax was last raised in the early 90's - and with many cars getting better gas mileage these days - the federal fund is running on empty.
If federal funding halts, not only do projects stop, but thousands of construction workers could be jobless. There are a number of proposals to at the least put a patch on the problem, but a politically divided congress can't seem to reach an agreement.
KARE 11 caught up with Senator Al Franken as he toured flood damage and asked about the transportation funding. "We can't 'not' do something, we can't let the Highway Trust Fund go broke," said Sen. Franken.
Congressman Keith Ellison tells KARE 11 fixing transportation funding will be lawmakers number one priority when they return from the 4th of July break. MnDOT reports having enough funding for projects currently underway but tells KARE 11 any road work that has not already started is in danger.