St. Paul, MN (KROC-AM News) - The Minnesota Department of Transportation says the state’s transportation funding gap has grown significantly over the past couple years.

A new report projects the state will face a $16 billion shortfall in the amount of funding needed to provide Minnesotans with an economically competitive transportation system for the 20 year period starting in 2018. A previous Minnesota State Highway Investment Plan that covered 2014 through 2033 put the shortfall at $12.3 billion.

Transportation Commissioner Charlie Zelle attributes gap growth to a number of issues, including:

  • Legislative inaction. Since the last MnSHIP, there have been four years of legislative inaction on sustained transportation funding.
  • Aging system. Minnesota’s transportation system, the fifth largest in the nation, is coming of age. Half of the state’s highways are more than 50 years old and more than a third of all state bridges are also 50 years or older.
  • Exponential deterioration. The longer the state waits to make necessary investments in critical transportation infrastructure improvements, the faster our aging roads and bridges deteriorate. Deferring basic maintenance causes more costly damage to our current infrastructure, making their improvements more complex and costly to complete.
  • Inflation. The cost of materials and labor to fix the system has increased and will continue to do so. A key revenue source for transportation, the state fuel tax, is not indexed to inflation and does not keep pace with rising costs.
  • New need requirement categories. MnDOT is now considering flood mitigation and main street projects which provides a more accurate picture of the system’s true needs.