As you drive around Fergus Falls and several different areas in Otter Tail, Grant and Wilkin counties, you may notice backhoes, cranes and other construction equipment. While it may be a headache to drive through construction zones or take a detour, these projects are important to for maintaining a strong infrastructure.
The second-largest source of revenue for the Minnesota Department of Transportation is federal assistance, the first being state taxes. Most of the federal funding for highways comes from the Highway Trust Fund. The fund was established in 1956 under President Dwight Eisenhower, which collects federal tax through the purchase of regular and diesel gases. This tax has not been raised since 1993, although presidents Clinton, Bush and Obama passed different infrastructure bills during their times in office.
Currently, the lack of clarity has left an expansive infrastructure at the wayside. Democrats have suggested that raising the federal gas tax as a way to fund national infrastructure, while Republicans oppose a gas tax, state or federal, as it would hamper the middle and lower class. Whether it be a gas tax or another strategy, what is clear is that transportation agencies and municipalities need more funding to help repair crumbling infrastructure and modernize transportation.
In Fergus Falls, several projects are on the horizon as the city looks to fix roads and sewage. During the summer, tourists have an opportunity to look at both cities and roads in the places they travel to and from. If the infrastructure seems to be in disarray due to potholes, nonvisible street markings and other issues can leave a black eye on the city.
We at The Daily Journal applaud cities in our area for addressing issues with infrastructure and look forward to fewer detours.