Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Rough roads and bridges keep rural businesses from moving forward in Minnesota, study says

The collapse of a major bridge in Minneapolis last August brought attention to the need for improved transportation infrastructure in Minnesota and throughout the country. Aging roads and bridges remain major concern for rural Minnesotans, especially when it comes to business, write Conrad deFiebre and Matt Entenza of The Bemidji Pioneer. The Pioneer is a 9,500-circulation daily in northern Minnesota.

"Rural Minnesotans are paying a high price for the state’s underinvestment; nearly $400 each because of excess wear and tear on cars and higher local property taxes to make up road funding shortfalls," they write in a commentary. "Poor roads and bridges are bad for rural Minnesota’s business climate. Weight restrictions and more frequent repairs make it harder to bring goods to market."

They point to "Moving Forward," a report from nonpartisan think tank Minnesota 2020, which said the state could expect an 8-to-1 return on transportation investments. To pay for such investments, the deFiebre and Entenza call for the passage of a comprehensive transportation finance bill and the raising of vehicle user fees. (Read more)

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