Transportation funding is growing concern in YM County
GRANITE FALLS -- The upcoming transportation debate in St. Paul is likely to focus on whether to bond for highway improvements -- as Gov. Tim Pawlenty prefers -- or to raise the gas tax and pay as you go, as the DFL leadership in the Legislature ...
GRANITE FALLS -- The upcoming transportation debate in St. Paul is likely to focus on whether to bond for highway improvements -- as Gov. Tim Pawlenty prefers -- or to raise the gas tax and pay as you go, as the DFL leadership in the Legislature prefers.
State bonding has helped area counties with bridge and other needs, but Yellow Medicine County Highway Engineer Andy Butler said he is leery of funding highway work that way.
"It really concerns me," said Butler. He told Sen. Gary Kubly, DFL-Granite Falls, and Rep. Lyle Koenen, DFL-Clara City, that state bond funds would be limited to state highways and would not address county road needs. The legislators met Tuesday with the Yellow Medicine County Board of Commissioners.
Butler said the state's transportation system "is going backwards" due to the refusal to increase the gas tax for nearly 20 years. Counties are seeing the consequences as tax revenues fail to keep pace with inflation, he said.
The two legislators are also leery of the governor's proposal to use bond funds for highway needs. Kubly said the governor's plan is based on using future federal highway dollars to retire the debt that would be incurred. That serves only to pass on the bill to our children and grandchildren, he said.
Koenen said he might be open to considering some bonding for road needs, but was concerned when he learned that general obligation funds would be used for the debt.
The county commissioners voiced their concerns for the conditions of rural roads. Gary Johnson, Clarkfield, said he will continue to press the Minnesota Department of Transportation to improve U.S. Highway 59 north of Marshall. Other commissioners noted the lack of either a four-lane or "super-two" highway in the area. They would like to see U.S. Highway 212 upgraded to a super-two road. A super-two highway includes areas with separate passing lanes.