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As others see it: Transportation upgrade is necessary

If transportation infrastructure is key to statewide economic development, Minnesota appears headed down the road to ruin.

Half the bridges and 30 percent of the roads are not in a "good" condition, according to the state's own reports. The Pawlenty administration's MnDOT has never met its own road condition goals. In six out of seven years, it has not met its own bridge condition goals.

Transit development for outstate Minnesota has fallen short of goals for nine years and is projected to remain below par for at least two more years. Bus service goals for outstate Minnesota are aimed at meeting 80 percent of the need, which was 1.4 million hours in 2010. Projections are for 1.03 million hours, 26 percent below the goal.

A full 17 percent of Twin Cities highways are congested, but it's been as high as 21.3 percent in the last eight years. In the good old days -- 1996 -- just 10 percent of highways were congested. We've nearly doubled our highway congestion in less than 15 years.

MnDOT's new goals aren't to get back to reducing congestion, but to "slow the growth," according to the Accountability Minnesota report. ...

Gubernatorial candidates must have a plan to reverse these precipitous declines in the quality of our transportation infrastructure. It's key to moving goods in Minnesota. It's key to creating the jobs that every candidate says they want to create.

What's more troubling about the failure of the current administration to reach its own goals is there appeared to be no strong effort to rectify the situation year after year. A governor has to be impose accountability on his administration if it's not getting the job done.

There are a number of options, from revisiting motor vehicle registration fee cuts from the Ventura administration to investing in more light rail to relieve congestion.

We need more specifics from candidates instead of more of "do more with what we have" sound bites. Voters should ask current gubernatorial candidates how they will correct our transportation problems, and what they will do if executive level departments are not meeting goals after one or two or three years in a row.