It’s no secret that our state’s infrastructure is aging and deteriorating. According to the recently released American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) annual state report card, Minnesota roads received a “D+” overall grade while bridges received a “C” and transit service received a “C-.”

Both Republicans and Democrats agree that more resources should be dedicated to fixing our state’s infrastructure, and Gov. Tim Walz has made this a top priority. Unfortunately, there is no agreement on how best to increase funding. Insisting on one funding source without being open to compromise will only lead to gridlock. We need state leaders to work together to solve this problem.

Without some kind of additional funding, road, bridge and transit needs in our area will go unaddressed. We need the governor, House and Senate to work together to find a transportation funding solution that can pass and be signed into law in 2019. Delay will only make our problems worse and more expensive.

In our area, we need expansion of Highway 59 from Detroit Lakes to Mahnomen, improvements made to I-94 and Highways 10 and 9, in addition to replacing local deficient bridges and improving local roads. If done properly our county state aid highways will receive additional funding as well, current state and federal funds are inadequate, this puts more pressure on local property taxpayers.

Safety is a serious issue on our roadways. More Minnesotans were killed and injured in traffic crashes in 2018 than in 2017, an estimated 380 lives lost. Most auto fatalities and injuries occur on two-lane, undivided roadways in rural areas.

Minnesota’s subpar infrastructure is becoming more noticeable as the snow melts and our crumbling infrastructure is unveiled. The Legislature is set to adjourn in May, just before Minnesota families embark on their summer road trips. We cannot afford to have another year with more accidents, injuries and fatalities.

We can’t afford to kick this can down the road, we need additional long-term sustainable funding for our infrastructure needs.

I encourage all of you to contact your legislator to increase funding for transportation, to set aside the partisan politics, and to get this done, for all of Minnesota.

Wayne Johnson,

Otter Tail County Commissioner


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