If the Highway 14 Partnership has its way, a lot more funding could be flowing to regional road projects.
That’s a goal many transportation-related organizations share next year, even though the Legislature plans to concentrate more on policy issues during the 2018 session. Still, everyone from local lawmakers to transportation experts is gearing up for a continued debate over Minnesota’s transportation needs.
“We will be very engaged in recommending, endorsing and advocating for the need for Corridors of Commerce funding for the Highway 14 projects,” said Patrick Baker, director of government and institutional affairs for Greater Mankato Growth.
Locally, area officials are waiting to see whether recent changes to how projects are prioritized will affect funding for Highway 14’s remaining two projects to turn it into a four-lane route from New Ulm to Rochester.
Baker said the partnership is encouraged by a mandate to direct half of the Corridors of Commerce funding to outstate projects, but they fear the changes mean more metro roads will get money that was specifically geared for Greater Minnesota.
Statewide, organizations such as the Association of Minnesota Counties and the Minnesota Transportation Alliance are exploring whether to push a constitutional amendment to dedicate more funding for roads and bridges, specifically the motor vehicle sales tax and other recent auto-related general fund money that was used in this year’s GOP-led transportation bill.
“As it is, there’s about $307 million of taxes that is received from auto parts,” said Blue Earth County Commissioner Vance Stuehrenberg. “Obviously, if we have a constitutional amendment, the whole $307 million would go into transportation.”
Stuehrenberg is vice president of the Minnesota Transportation Alliance board of directors and also serves as…