All Minnesota drivers know that there are only two seasons here, winter and road construction. We also know that our roads need various levels of repair in order to keep people going from A to B on a regular basis. The problem lies in funding, where are we going to get the hundreds of millions of dollars, to fix our roads? One option that was brought up recently by the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) was implementing toll roads.

If you've traveled to Illinois you know all about toll roads, they are spread out the interstate system and costs to use the roads vary by location. The discussion over toll revenue comes at a time when President Donald Trump pitched his $1.5 trillion plan to repair the nation’s crumbling infrastructure during his State of the Union speech last week. Of that amount, a reported $200 billion would come from federal sources, with states, cities and private interests making up the rest.

Minnesota has relied partly on federal and state gas tax revenue for highway upkeep, but that financial kitty has been shrinking. People are driving less and, when they do drive, they are commandeering vehicles that are more fuel efficient. Efforts in recent years to increase the state’s gas tax, which now stands at 28.5 cents per gallon, have gained little political traction.

If you think the toll system wouldn't affect us in Southern Minnesota you'd be wrong. The “high-level” study looks at various scenarios for tolls on different types of highways throughout the state, including Interstates 35 and 94 in the metro and rural areas, as well as Hwys. 169 and 610, considered busy urban freeways. Hwy. 52 from the southern suburbs to Rochester was also included. The suggested toll amount according to the study, 7 cents a mile.

Toll roads are only an outside option right now at funding the road repairs, but they definitely aren't for me.

Listen to James Rabe in the mornings from 6a to 10a on Y105 FM.

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