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“It’s depressing, but predictable,” he said. “This is what happens when we don’t have a long-term policy on transportation.”
Congress last year passed a transportation bill that lacked long-standing dedicated federal funding for bridges. Bridge needs must now compete with other transportation priorities.
The Minnesota Legislature in 2008 passed a 8.5 cent gas tax increase for transportation, with 3.5 cents of it providing $866 million for bridge repair and replacement through 2018. Of that, $532 million already has been spent, including on such major projects as the Lafayette Bridge and Hastings Bridge.
“We’re making progress,” Zelle said. “The bigger issue is the longterm, beyond 2018.”
Minnesota’s deficient bridges have an average age of 67 years. The biggest share of bridges deemed deficient — nearly 28 percent — is in Pipestone County in the far southwestern part of the state. More than 20 percent of the bridges in Sibley, Renville and Mower counties were deficient.
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