Carter announces 2020 budget – street funding takes center stage

Mayor Carter launched his proposed 2020 budget for St. Paul yesterday, and finding a sustainable way to fund our streets was a central theme.

Referencing last week’s report from the city’s public works department, Mayor Carter accepted that “keeping street spending at the current rate would render more than half our roads undrivable in just 20 years.” The $20m in spending allocated (already an increase from historic funding levels) falls well short of the $46.5m needed annually to meet the existing target of 65% PCI, with $51m needed to meet the ideal target of 70% PCI. At current spending rates, roads with a supposed lifespan of 60 years will be resurfaced every 289 years.

Mayor wants to share the load

In a statement dripping with irony in light of the city’s current mill & overlay policy, Carter added:

Saint Paul taxpayers are not alone in using and causing wear and tear on city streets, and we should not have to bear the cost of maintaining them alone.

The Mayor promised to “work actively with our partners in county and state government” to get help paying for the existing street network. He has a point. St. Paul residents aren’t causing the majority of damage to the street network directly. As the capital city of the state of Minnesota, the seat of Ramsey County, and a regional economic hub, St. Paul attracts all kinds of road users beyond its residents, including heavy commercial vehicles that disproportionately damage the roads.

And with the city’s population set to grow by 30,000 in the next 20 years, simply pouring more money in to the existing street networks isn’t sustainable. Carter set out a vision for a broader transportation policy that incentivizes people to use other options such as walking, cycling, shared vehicles and public transit. An example of this approach is a newly announced plan for Ayd Mill Road, which would convert its east side to a bike path, halving the number of lanes and reducing wear by shifting traffic to county and state-funded roadways.

Following the address, the mayor fielded questions from reporters. When asked about pending lawsuits against the city on mill & overlay, organized trash collection, and right of way assessments, amongst others, the mayor stressed that it was important to “take a fresh look” and to “work with our residents”.

As and when Mayor Carter decides he’s ready to turn words in action, our contact details are right here on our website.

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