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Legislators set sights on transportation project selection process

House Photography file photo
House Photography file photo

An Office of the Legislative Auditor’s report released last year criticized the Department of Transportation’s project selection process as being too hazy, saying it didn’t shed enough light on why the department chooses some projects over others.

HF1434, approved Wednesday by the House Transportation and Regional Governance Policy Committee, would undertake changes in how the department makes its decisions on which projects to complete in an effort, the bill’s sponsor said, to shed light on what the report said is a procedure lacking transparency.

READ MnDOT working to make project selection process less hazy

Rep. Abigail Whelan (R-Ramsey) sponsors the proposal that would require MnDOT to evaluate all projects submitted by local agencies for consideration under the Corridors of Commerce program that is targeted at making highway improvements along critical stretches of Greater Minnesota highway.

The bill, referred to the House Transportation Finance Committee, would also add information required to be included in legislative reports on the program, including

  • selection criteria;
  • how the criteria is weighted; and
  • project evaluation results.

There is no Senate companion.

Whelan steered clear of criticizing MnDOT, whom she said assisted her work on the bill, but said there appears to be a lack of trust from local officials toward MnDOT.

“This bill, I hope, is a step toward rebuilding that trust,” she said.

Anoka County Engineer Doug Fischer praised the Corridors of Commerce program, but said he was disappointed in how the program was launched.

“This bill goes a very long way to bring [Corridors of Commerce] back to the legislative intent when this program was launched in 2013,” he said. 

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