More than 130 state groups launched a campaign Thursday that aims to pressure legislators and the governor to ramp up spending on projects ranging from buses to bridge renovations.
Move MN includes labor, business and transit groups who see an urgent need to fix the "crumbling" transportation infrastructure of roads and bridges across the state, as well as to improve mass transit options.
The campaign's efforts are fueled by the condition of the state's transportation infrastructure. The 2013 report card from the American Society of Civil Engineers found that 52 percent of Minnesota's roads are in poor or mediocre condition. The same study reports that 9.1 percent of the state's bridges are structurally deficient and 3.2 percent of them are functionally obsolete.
Ann Mulholland, vice president for grants and programs at Minnesota Philanthropy Partners, said coalition members believe that investing in the transportation infrastructure and transit systems will improve the economic climate in the state.
"In greater Minnesota, it's highways and roads to get products to market and to get people who sometimes have to travel long distances to work and to school," Mulholland said. "In the Metro area, it's economically critical for businesses to have a strong transit system to get their workers to jobs."
Minnesota's Transportation Finance Advisory Committee, established by Gov. Mark Dayton, released a report at the end of 2012 saying that transporation funding would need to be increased by more than $20 billion over the next two decades just keep the status quo.
The bonding package released by Dayton last week includes $79 million in spending on transportation infrastructure including bridge repair and replacement and road improvements. Members of Dayton's administration have signaled possible support for more transportation investment in recent weeks.
The coalition hasn't yet set a funding target or said how they plan to raise the money. But Move MN has legislative support, Mulholland said. She expects the coalition to begin proposing legislation in the coming weeks.
"We have financial challenges in our transportation system and it's time that we address those so we're not passing this problem down onto our children and so that we're creating a strong economic system for the state of Minnesota," Mulholland said.