ST. PAUL, Minn. - Gov. Mark Dayton's plan for transportation would repair or replace 2,200 miles of state roads and 330 bridges, but would come at a noticeable cost to taxpayers.
Dayton released a large-scale proposal Monday that depends on adding a new 6.5 percent tax on gas and higher vehicle registration fees. To pay for 20 new transitways and increased bus service, the governor recommended a half-percent increase in the Twin Cities area sales tax.
"Inadequate transportation clogs our lives with worse traffic congestion, longer commutes, more dangerous travel conditions," said Dayton in a written statement. "Those deficiencies restrict our future economic growth and will detract from our quality of life. If we continue to avoid these problems they will only get worse. It's time to solve them."
The governor maintains that half of the state's roads are more than 50 years old, and 40 percent of Minnesota's bridges are more than 40 years old. The plan is Dayton's stab at what he considers to be a $6 billion problem over the next decade.
Dayton says his proposal would also boost spending on locally maintained roads and bridges. He and the administration say it will deliver:
- Better Roads and Bridges. The Governor's plan would repair or replace 2,200 miles of state roads. It would repair or replace 330 bridges statewide. Forty percent of the new revenues raised in the Governor's proposal would be directed to cities, counties, and townships; giving local leaders the resources and flexibility to repair and replace local roads and bridges statewide.
- Better Transit Across Minnesota. The Governor's plan would fund 20 new transitways, increase metro area bus service by 27 percent, increase Metro Area transit ridership by an estimated 80 percent, meet 90 percent of all transit needs in Greater Minnesota, and increase transit service in Greater Minnesota by nearly 500,000 hours of service each year.
- More Corridors of Commerce. The Governor's plan would provide an additional $1.6 billion for the Corridors of Commerce initiative, making targeted investments in key freight routes that are important for businesses' expansions and economic development.
Pushing the plan through could be an uphill battle in the Republican-controlled House, where lawmakers see less need for a transportation overhaul and have little appetite for tax hikes.