Monday, May 4, 2009

On potholes and public policy
The State of Minnesota has nearly 290,000 lane-miles of highways, roads, and streets, and about 16 percent of those streets are owned and maintained by cities. According to the League of Minnesota Cities' recent State of the Cities Report, about 80 percent of Minnesota cities have streets in need of repair, reconstruction, and/or other maintenance--such as seal coating. Declining revenues, including major cuts in state aid to cities, have made securing basic funding for repair and maintenance quite challenging. The League has proposed a legislative solution that still has a chance for passage in this session--a street improvement district provision that exists in the House version of the tax bill. Without ongoing maintenance, the average life expectancy of local streets is approximately 25 to 30 years. With appropriate maintenance, this infrastructure can last 50 to 60 years. Timely maintenance is essential to preserving streets and thereby protecting taxpayer investments.