These are the four stories you need to know about from Thursday, July 23. They include a troubling study on big city roads, as well as some big changes at the State Fair this year.
Some top Minnesota Democrats are ditching a call for a wholesale gasoline tax in an effort to force action on transportation funding this year. Ambitious plans to increase funds for the state’s ailing network of roads and bridges were stymied this legislative session by disagreement over how to pay for it.
You know that familiar sound, the one that jolts you to attention whenever your vehicle starts to stray toward the highway shoulder. Now, the Minnesota Department of Transportation is studying quieter rumble strips.
Minnesota reached a grim milestone Tuesday after two fatal crashes pushed the state’s 2015 traffic fatality number to 100. The Minnesota Department of Public Safety’s Office of Traffic Safety says a head-on crash killed two drivers in Carlton, and a roll-over crash in St. Louis County killed a man who was not wearing his seat belt.
State officials say five motorcyclists have died on Minnesota roads in less than a week, bringing the year’s fatality total up to six.
Millions of drivers use metro freeways in Minneapolis and St. Paul every day to get to and from work, run errands or just shuttle around. In fact, MnDOT says the Interstate 35W/Interstate 94 interchange can see up to 180,000 people a day.
If winter is over, that means it must be road construction season. The Minnesota Department of Transportation plans to spend $1 billion this season upgrading, replacing and expanding highways and bridges.
Minnesota’s early snow melt means a rapid start to a messy job this time of year — picking up roadside trash.
Minnesotans are bringing out their motorcycles for the first time this season. While the weather is perfect for riding, other factors make this time of year especially dangerous for bikers.
Frustrated by a transportation plan stuck in neutral at the Capitol, Gov. Mark Dayton ramped up pressure Thursday on majority House Republicans to produce a viable alternative to his multi-billion dollar proposal for roadwork and mass-transit projects. Dayton joined Democratic Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk in questioning the GOP’s commitment to tackling the transportation-funding issue this year as the session nears its midpoint.
Minnesota democrats are showing a united front in the push for a multi-billion dollar transportation project. Gov. Mark Dayton and top democrats want to raise the gas tax to pay for road and bridge improvements.
In making his case for higher state transportation taxes, Gov. Mark Dayton regularly points to a slowing flow of money from Washington for highway construction as a reason Minnesota taxpayers are stuck with a bigger burden. “It’s not going to come from the federal government. It’s not going to come from the sky,” Dayton bluntly told a delegation from Bemidji during its annual Capitol lobbying day. “So it’s going to have to come from our pockets.”
Snow plows have been out since 3:30 a.m. Tuesday, getting ready for ice, slush and snow. “We put down the chemicals to help break up the ice that was heading our way this morning,” MnDOT’s Kevin Walker said.
Gov. Mark Dayton’s plan for transportation would repair or replace 2,200 miles of state roads and 330 bridges, but would come at a noticeable cost to taxpayers. Dayton released a large-scale proposal Monday that depends on adding a new 6.5 percent tax on gas and higher vehicle registration fees.
A wide gulf between how Republicans, Democrats and business groups want to tackle the state’s multibillion-dollar backlog of road and bridge repairs all but guarantees that what’s been billed as the biggest fight of the 2015 legislative session will live up to the hype. House Republicans unveiled a proposal Thursday that would tap a projected budget surplus and shave spending at the Department of Transportation to fund $750 million in repairs over the next four years.
Transportation officials are urging drivers to watch for deer as November is the peak time for deer-car collisions in Minnesota.
As the season’s first snow storm moved out of the state, there were almost 200 crashes on Minnesota roads. Lt. Eric Roeske of the State Patrol said that of Tuesday evening there were 172 crashes and 140 spin-outs, which injured 30 people and killed two.
As we shift into fall, state leaders are already thinking about clearing snow from the roads. And in some cases, what they’re finding is a big increase in the price of road salt. The demand for road salt is outpacing the supply. A trade group for salt mines says they can’t produce it as fast as states and cities are ordering it.
Next time your car stalls on the freeway, smile and wave. At the epicenter of MnDOT’s traffic operations in Roseville, these are the people likely looking back at you. Through 600 live cameras, MnDOT is able to pinpoint potential problems as they happen — like a flat tire or a crash — and speed up their response to keep traffic moving.
St. Paul officials are laying out their plan to fix about half of the city’s “Terrible 20″ roads. Eleven roads will undergo maintenance beginning the week of Sept. 8, and the work is expected to run until mid-October.
Another $5 million in federal assistance is bound for Minnesota to help repair roads and bridges damaged by severe flooding in June. Gov. Mark Dayton’s administration said Thursday that the emergency repair money is on top of $5 million previously released by the Federal Highway Administration.
Minnesota officials have hired a contractor to start stabilizing a highway closed by flood and mudslide damage. The Minnesota Department of Transportation tells the Mankato Free Press that GeoStabilization International of Grand Junction, Colorado, has begun work on Highway 19.
A three-year project to add another lane to Interstate 494 in Plymouth is officially underway, following a groundbreaking ceremony Wednesday morning. The stretch of 494 from Highway 55 to the Fish Lake Interchange is the only part of 494 that didn’t have three lanes.
A pair of turkeys is causing problems for drivers in the south metro, and not even police can scare them off. A Chaska officer took pictures in an area on Norex Drive. The two male turkeys weren’t allowing vehicles to pass and were coming up right to them.
Break out the orange barrels — another road construction season is around the corner in Minnesota. State Department of Transportation officials Thursday unveiled the projects they’ll tackle this year.