Thursday, May 4, 2017 
Report available at:

Contact: Rocky Moretti 202.262.0714 (cell)
TRIP office 202.466.6706

Eds.: The report includes lists of unfunded transportation projects statewide and in Duluth, the Twin Cities and Rochester that are needed to improve conditions, relieve traffic congestion and improve traffic safety.

Duluth, MN– Amid a declining level of funding available for maintenance and improvement to the state’s roads and bridges, Minnesota faces a $2.8 billion transportation funding shortfall over the next four years, leading to deteriorating road and bridge conditions, a lack of safety improvements, and increasing congestion due to increases in vehicle travel. This is according to a new report by TRIP, a Washington, DC based national transportation organization. TRIP’s report identifies unfunded transportation projects in the Duluth area, costing between $429 and 536 million, that are needed to improve conditions, relieve traffic congestion and improve traffic safety. The amount of funding available for road maintenance and improvements by the state, counties and municipalities is projected to decrease by 16 percent from FY2016 to FY2021.

The TRIP report, Moving Minnesota Forward: Challenges in Providing Safe, Efficient and Well-Maintained Roads, Highways and Bridges,” examines road and bridge conditions, travel trends, economic development, highway safety, transportation funding, and the status of needed transportation improvements in the Duluth area and statewide.

Twenty-eight percent of Minnesota’s major locally and state-maintained urban roads and highways have pavements in poor condition and 21 percent are rated in mediocre condition. Sixteen percent of the state’s major urban roads are rated in fair condition and the remaining 35 percent are rated in good condition. In the Duluth area, 69 percent of major roads are in poor or mediocre condition. Due to a lack of funding, the number of lane miles of state-maintained roads in poor condition is projected to increase by 80 percent from 2015 to 2020, from 535 miles in poor condition to 963 miles.

Six percent of Minnesota’s bridges are structurally deficient, meaning there is significant deterioration to the major components of the bridge. The Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) estimates that, based on available funding, the number of state-maintained bridges rated in poor condition will increase by approximately 70 percent between 2016 and 2020, from 23 bridges to 39 bridges.

“The data is clear,” said Julie Ring, executive director of the Association of Minnesota Counties. “Minnesota’s transportation system is facing critical needs and the cost of maintaining and improving our network of roads, bridges and transit systems grows every year. It’s time for the Legislature and Governor to compromise and move forward a comprehensive transportation funding package that addresses the needs throughout our state.”

Increasing levels of traffic congestion cause significant delays in Minnesota, particularly in its larger urban areas, choking commuting and commerce. In the Duluth area, the average driver loses 20 hours annually as a result of traffic congestion. Traffic congestion costs the average Duluth area driver $541 each year in the form of lost time and wasted fuel.

“Transportation infrastructure is a key component to success and quality of life in St Louis County and the entire Arrowhead region,” said County Administrator Kevin Gray. “State transportation funding is a vital component of the overall revenue and is mission critical to preserving the safety and mobility of the traveling public.”

The chart below details needed projects in the Duluth area that will not have adequate funding to start prior to 2022.


  County Project Type Highway Project Location Work to Be Completed Cost Range - Low Cost Range - High
Duluth St. Louis Pavement, Bridge, Mobility Interstate 35 Twin Points interchange in Duluth Significant roadway surface improvements and bridge repair/replace $219,600,000 $268,400,000
Duluth St. Louis Bridge Interstat 535 Interstate 535 over St. Louis River - Blantik Bridge Repair/Replace $166,950,000 $204,050,000
Duluth St. Louis Bridge Interstate 35 Interstate 35 over Abandoned Street St. Louis Repair/Replace $7,060,000 $10,590,000
Duluth St. Louis Bridge US Highway 53 US Highway 53 over 1st Street and 21st Ave in St. Louis County Repair/Replace $15,900,000 $23,890,000
Duluth St. Louis Bridge Interstate 35 Interstate 35 over Railroad Line in St. Louis County - Northbound Repair/Replace $4,830,000 $7,240,000
Duluth St. Louis Bridge 5th Avenue W 5h Avenue W over Interstate 35 in St. Louis County Repair/Replace $14,770,000 $22,150,000

“With an already large transportation funding shortfall and a dwindling level of transportation funding available in the coming years, Minnesota is poised to see increasingly deteriorated and congested roads in the future,” said Will Wilkins, executive director of TRIP. “Additional transportation funding will allow the state to move forward with dozens of needed projects that will provide a smoother, safer and more efficient transportation system for drivers, and allow the state’s businesses to maintain and expand their competitive edge.”