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Committee hears details of House, Senate transportation agreement

House Photography file photo
House Photography file photo

With summer construction season in full swing, transportation projects around Minnesota that might have soon ground to a halt without action from the Legislature seem back on firmer ground.

Legislative leaders reached agreement on an omnibus transportation finance and policy bill that would provide funding for the Department of Transportation, Department of Public Safety and the Metropolitan Council during the upcoming biennium.

Sponsored by Rep. Frank Hornstein (DFL-Mpls), SSHF10 was the subject of an informational hearing held Tuesday by the House Transportation Finance and Policy Committee. Members discussed, and generally praised, the $7.27 billion bill, which is scheduled for debate by the full House Wednesday.

It includes $220.4 million in net General Fund spending over base during the 2022-23 biennium. The total appropriations by agency include $6.49 billion for the Department of Transportation, $516.3 million for the Department of Public Safety and $235.7 million for the Metropolitan Council.

Hornstein said the initial budget target for transportation was $200 million from the General Fund, but was revised upward during negotiations.

“I’m very pleased that this is a balanced bill between roads, bridges, transit, lots of good policy in here, it does move us forward,” Hornstein told the committee. “As with any negotiation there are disappointments but, in general, it is a solid transportation bill for what we were given in terms of a General Fund target. So I am pleased with it and hope you can support it tomorrow.”

Rep. John Petersburg (R-Waseca), the committee’s Republican lead, praised the job Hornstein did in negotiations with the Senate while also expressing concerns that the process by which the agreement was reached didn’t allow for more input from committee members.

But he also suggested that, unlike some of the recent rancorous House floor sessions, tomorrow’s debate would be robust but “well received.”

“I think it has the potential to be a very bipartisan bill,” Petersburg said.

The bill includes hundreds of millions of dollars for road and bridge work around the state, along with dozens of policy provisions.

[MORE: View the spreadsheet]

One-time General Fund appropriations for MnDOT include:

  • $18 million for the Small Cities Assistance Program;
  • $14 million for the local bridge improvement;
  • $12 million for town roads (above the formula-based distribution);
  • $10 million for second daily Amtrak service between Minneapolis/St. Paul and Chicago;
  • $5.6 million for an airport runway in Karlstad;
  • $5.5 million for the Local Road Improvement Program;
  • $5 million for the Safe Routes to School program (above the base appropriations of $500,000 annually);
  • $5 million for the Active Transportation program; and
  • $300,000 for a grant to the Interstate Highway 494 Corridor Commission.

One-time General Fund appropriations for the Metropolitan Council include:

  • $57.5 million for arterial bus rapid transit projects;
  • $250,000 for a zero-emission transit vehicle transition plan; and
  • $250,000 for an analysis of transit service in a Trunk Highway 55 corridor.

The Department of Public Safety would also receive a one-time General Fund appropriation of $14.8 million for grants to install school bus stop-arm cameras.

There is also $213 million in trunk highway bonding authorized in fiscal year 2022 and an additional $100 million in each year of the 2024-25 biennium for the Corridors of Commerce program.

The fiscal year 2022 appropriation would allocate $100 million for state road construction and $113 million for Regional and Community Investment Priorities that are listed in a June 19 letter from MnDOT to legislative leaders and the chairs of the House and Senate transportation committees.

The agency outlined how funding would be used for several specific projects, while qualifying that the expenditures are approximate and more money may be needed to cover further “significant funding gaps.” They include:

  • $31 Million for Ramsey Gateway/U.S. Highway 10;
  • $30 million for U.S. Highway 10 in Wadena;
  • $27 million for Interstate Highway 94 Westbound in Albertville; and
  • $25 million for U.S. Highway 212 in Carver County.

Several other projects would be paid through the General Fund, including:

  • $8 million for expansion of U.S. Highway 8 from two to four lanes in Chisago County;
  • $7 million for 99th Avenue and Trunk Highway 65 in Blaine;
  • $3.5 million for a bridge over Interstate Highway 694 in Washington County;
  • $3.03 million for Sherburne street and utility reconstruction;
  • $2.5 million for U.S. Highway 169, Trunk Highway 282 & County State Aid Highway 9 in Scott County;
  • $2.5 million for studies of Trunk Highways 3, 77 and 55;
  • $1.5 million for a roundabout on Trunk Highway 41 in Chanhassen;
  • $1.4 million for a study of Interstate Highway 35 in Dakota County;
  • $1 million for a study of U.S. Highway 10 in St. Cloud; and
  • $500,000 for a study of I-35 and County State Aid Highway 9 in Rice County.

Not included in the bill are any tax increases, such as indexing the gas tax to inflation, meant to provide more ongoing, dedicated transportation funding that were part of the omnibus transportation bill passed by the House in mid-April.

Hornstein said the Senate would not agree to any of those provisions and the one-time General Fund appropriations were “the next best thing” for now.

The bill does contains a number of policy provisions meant to address public safety issues such as ending driver’s license suspensions for a number of different violations, including unpaid traffic tickets, and reducing barriers to license reinstatement, which supporters say will allow more people to drive legally and safely.

There is also money to outfit State Troopers with body cameras and for beefed up security around the State Capitol.

Some of the other notable policy provisions in the bill would:

  • establish that, beginning in fiscal year 2026, the amount of funding needed for Metro Mobility will be included in the state’s budget forecasts with the expectation that program will be fully funded moving forward;
  • broaden the prohibitions list on use of Trunk Highway Fund dollars for specified purposes;
  • set school bus inspection standards to national standards;
  • direct Department of Public Safety to implement a process to provide self-service kiosks for motor vehicle registration renewals;
  • establish a fine of $20 for people who miss a driver’s knowledge or road test, or cancel it within 24 hours of the appointment time. Requirements for who can monitor an online driver’s license knowledge test would also be modified;
  • establish that electric bicycles are not defined in state statutes as “off-road” or “all-terrain” or “motor” vehicles, and create three different classifications for e-bikes based on their pedal assist top speed;
  • reduce the maximum power of an electric bicycle motor from 1,000 to 750 watts, and set certain equipment and labeling requirements;
  • establish that bicycle lanes are part of the roadway, not the shoulder;
  • require that someone appointed by the court to serve on an eminent domain property valuation panel must reside in Minnesota;
  • eliminate a requirement that an appointed county highway engineer must be a citizen and resident of Minnesota;
  • require a study of speed management in work zones;
  • require a same-day driver’s licenses pilot project in Lakeville and Moorhead;
  • direct the Metropolitan Council to develop a zero-emission plan for its transit vehicle fleet; and
  • provide for the governor’s Blue Ribbon Council of Information Technology to review the MNDRIVE system’s performance and processes.


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