Capital investment plan identifies funding gap of $18 billion
The Minnesota Department of Transportation has released the final versions of its 20-year policy and highway capital investment plans. The state highway capital investment plan identifies an $18 billion gap between system needs and revenue over the next 20 years.
MnDOT’s Minnesota State Highway Investment Plan estimates the state will need to invest $39 billion over the next 20 years on the state highway system to meet performance-based targets and other key system goals. However, MnDOT forecasts that the department will have about $21 billion for state highways during this same period, which results in an unmet need of $18 billion.
The state highway system is aging.
“Much of the system was originally constructed during the buildout of the interstate system between the 1950s and the 1980s, and is now reaching the end of its service life,” said MnDOT Commissioner Charlie Zelle. “It will require increased capital investment and additional maintenance in the years.”
Zelle added that the growth in the unmet need accelerates over time. In the first 10 years of the plan, the gap is $6 billion. In the second decade, the gap will be $12 billion.
The Highway Investment plan was last updated in 2013. It directs capital investment for Minnesota’s 12,000 mile state highway system for the next 20 years. The MnSHIP investment direction focuses on maintaining the state highway system and making limited investments to improve travel time reliability. This approach reflects stakeholder input and meets key requirements and agency commitments.
“This updated investment direction continues a shift at MnDOT from building to maintaining the state highway system,” Zelle said, adding that the condition of the system is expected to deteriorate over the next two decades.
MnDOT also released its Statewide Multimodal Transportation Plan. Last updated in 2012, the SMTP is Minnesota’s highest level policy plan for transportation. The plan is for all types of transportation and all transportation partners.
The statewide multimodal transportation plan evaluates the entire transportation system, takes into account demographic, economic, environmental, technological and behavioral trends, and provides direction for moving forward over the next 20 years. The plan focuses on five objectives: open decision-making, transportation safety, critical connections, system stewardship and healthy communities.
The multimodal plan maintains the previous version’s commitment to preserving the existing system while considering strategic improvements with a high return on investment, advancing safety through the Toward Zero Deaths initiative, and considering social, environmental and economic impacts. New emphasis areas include:
Strengthening the relationship between transportation planning and land use decisions. The plan emphasizes the importance of considering the full context for transportation decisions, including the effects on man-made and natural environments.
Advancing equity. The plan emphasizes the need to increase the diversity of the transportation industry as well as provide for a more open and inclusive decision-making process that advances equity for low-income communities, communities of color, and persons with disabilities.
Making a clearer commitment to environmental issues. The plan calls for increased efforts to reduce the negative environmental impacts of transportation, such as setting a target for greenhouse gas emissions consistent with the Minnesota Next Generation Energy Act.
“With these plans, MnDOT reaffirms our commitment to the Minnesota GO vision of a transportation system that maximizes the health of people, the environment and our economy,” Zelle said. “Since adopting the first multimodal plan in 2012, we’ve made progress toward the vision, but we are not there yet.”
Both plans also strengthen MnDOT’s commitment to provide an accessible and useable transportation system for everyone. In the updated MnSHIP, MnDOT directs more funding to ensure that all state highways will be substantially compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act by 2037. Under previous funding levels, compliance was expected to take more than 50 years.
The final plans are posted online at www.minnesotago.org. They will also available in hard copy at the MnDOT Library, 395 John Ireland Blvd., in St. Paul, and at the eight MnDOT district headquarters located statewide, www.mndot.gov/information/locations.html by the end of next week.