Section Three: Infrastructure describes Minnesota’s infrastructure challenges and some of the most practical solutions to be enacted by state, county and city governments, as well as by the people living in diverse communities.
More than 30 specific options for community action or statewide policy changes are recommended.
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The 2018 Report Card on Infrastructure, produced by the American Public Works Association and civil engineers and experts in the “MN2050 ’’ organization, gave Minnesota mostly Cs and Ds in nine categories of public works and public-private systems, each of which are part of the physical foundation for economic health and quality of life.
Concern about neglect of transit and transportation systems came through strongly in the process. Almost $40 billion dollars are needed to maintain the state’s more than 143,000 miles of roads over the next 20 years, but only $21 billion can be anticipated through existing revenue sources. TBDN members recommended a major new funding package to fill that need and urged the Minnesota Legislature work with public and private local partners to develop long range transportation policies. These should include congestion pricing for private vehicles, investment in rapid transit and other local bus systems, and employer participation in development of transit systems for getting workers to their jobs.
TBDN participants prioritized out-of-date waste and drinking water treatment systems, noting a disproportionate burden on households and businesses in older, low-income, rural and urban neighborhoods. The Blueprint urges increased funding for Local Government Aid, maximizing state bonding bill efforts and allocating $200 million in funding for the Minnesota Public Facilities Authority (MPFA).
Broadband and digital inclusion represent newer additions to the infrastructure portfolio. Too many low-income and rural Minnesotans still lack affordable access to the state’s minimum level of high-speed internet service. TBDN stakeholders recommend that the state increase broadband grants to provide affordable service in rural and low-income urban areas.
Homelessness and increasingly severe shortages of affordable housing are creating a drag on the economy, exacerbating racial and regional disparities, as well as workforce supply and readiness. TBDN participants recommend that 10,000 more homes per year be built or converted to affordable housing for the next five years.