Attacking potholes, attacking cities

I know potholes are still rough out there — I drive over (and around) them, too.  Here’s how we’re attacking them:

  • We’re putting $1 million more into pothole repair than we budgeted for last year.
  • This is allowing us to double the number of crews who are out patching every day.
  • We’ve begun patching with high-quality, permanent hot asphalt and have put down more than 500 tons of it.
  • We’re continuing to patch with the temporary cold mix, which doesn’t hold as long as the hot asphalt but takes less time to put down. This allows us to patch the worst potholes quickly until we can patch them permanently.

Because potholes are so bad this year, it’s going to take some time to clear them up, but I hope that soon, you will start noticing a difference. And as always, I urge you to report potholes to Minneapolis 311, which helps us prioritize the worst ones on the busiest streets for the fastest repair. 

I’ve often said that the story ofMinneapolisover the past several years is that our streets are safer to walk on because they have potholes. By that I mean that several years ago, we chose to invest heavily in public safety — and to do so in a time of tight budgets, we had slow our investments in our streets.  The good news is that our investment in public safety is paying off: last year, violent crime in Minneapolis was at a 27-year low. 

But to catch up with our pothole deficit, in 2009 we began the Infrastructure Acceleration Program, putting $5 million a year for five years into resurfacing or sealcoating one-third of the busiest City-owned arterial streets by 2013. And it’s paid off, too: last spring, none of the streets that we improved the previous year developed a serious pothole, and so far this spring, we’re getting the same results. 

We’ve budgeted for even more long-term street improvements this year — but there’s a problem: as I’ve said before, the Minnesota House of Representatives has passed a bill to eliminate all Local Government Aid for Minneapolis and Minnesota’s core cities. LGA helps us pay for those street improvements — and helps keep property taxes down. I’ve also said before that LGA is not a handout:  the State of Minnesota collects far more in Minneapolis than we get back in LGA, and Minnesota Public Radio agrees

While we attack potholes, attacking Minneapolis and Minnesota’s core cities is a game for some legislators — but it’s one we all lose. When it’s harder to fill Minneapolis potholes, it’s harder for people to get to work and for trucks to deliver goods. When it’s harder to keep Minneapolis streets safe, it’s harder to attract jobs and visitors. And when it’s harder to keep Minneapolis property taxes down, it’s harder to keep neighborhoods vibrant. And when it’s harder to do these things in Minneapolis — Minnesota’s economic engine — it’s harder for Minnesota to grow. If that’s a game, all Minnesotans lose.

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