Front and center today: the state of our roads as the newMnDOT commissioner made a stop in Mankato this afternoon.
Today's focus on transportation shined light on the pressureon every state, not just Minnesota to maintain roadways for the next generationand make the appropriate expansions.
Charles Zelle says, "I'm well aware of some of theissues, some of the progress we've made, and how much more progress we have todo."
The new MnDOT Commissioner met with business leaders, mayorsand members of the community from Mankato, and surrounding key cities to hearmore directly what their concerns are in Southern Minnesota, such as thecompletion of Highway 14.
MnDOT commissioner says, "Soon is not fast enough. Itwill take time. We have some ideas on the drawing boards some segments whichwill be done in the next few years. There are some segments that with theavailable funding could be done even sooner. It's uncertain to the timeline butwe'll just keep chipping away."
They say the challenge is how they can keep up with thegrowing demand of repairs for a potential rebuilding phase.
Many roads have been overlaid and repaired but some are 40to 50 years old across the state, it might be tough what project takespriority.
Zelle says, "There are needs throughout the state thatare all very important and are all worthwhile in different ways."
Greater Mankato Growth's Jonathan Zierdt says,"Transportation is an integral part of economic vitality in any community,whether that's in the short run today with roads and bridges andinterchanges or 10 years or 20 years from now when we might be dealing withhow do we move passengers in ways we haven't done before, such as rail."
Zierdt adds that more pressing needs are focusing on fundingfor the Highway 14 project with a goal to move people and products from point Ato point B in the most efficient and effective way now and for years to come.