To the editor, 

As I drive around the Twin Cities and rural Minnesota, I’m amazed at the Minnesota Department of Transportation projects I see under construction or completed. The I-35E and 694 project, I-35W in Minneapolis, 694 and 169, connecting 610 to I-94 and other huge projects all done under traffic, which adds millions of dollars to projects. I think of the engineering and design work that goes into planning and constructing these projects.

There are and have been huge projects in the metro region, also all around the state – I see the new bridge on 53 going into Virginia, another huge project. The 55 rebuild in Rochester, Highway 14 improvements, roundabouts all over –  MNDOT is addressing the needs of our highway system. 

Of course Minnesota as a northern state has the road-destroying issues of four foot deep frost and road heaving with our harsh winters that shorten the life of a road.

Every time I see a bumper next to the crossover prevention barriers, I think that those cables prevented a crossover accident and a possible head-on collision. 

These safety improvements and the J turns on Highway 65 in Anoka County are also designed to prevent T-bone crashes that are so dangerous. 

I drive a lot, and on snowy days I’m grateful to see the highway crews out clearing the roads so well! Innovations like pre-treating highways before snowstorms and tow plows for rural areas where one operator can clear a two-lane road in one pass!

All these things point to a highly efficient transportation department. However, as our system is primarily funded by gas taxes at the state and federal level, as vehicles get better and better fuel mileage or use no gas or diesel at all, our elected leaders are going to have to find a way to meet the demands the driving public expect our highways to be at. I believe that means not using General Fund dollars for road improvements, as every dollar taken out of the General Fund for roads means less money for schools, folks in nursing homes and veterans. 

Rick Olseen

Sunrise Township

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