Cuts could force Minneapolis to slow its assault on potholes

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Minneapolis roads are falling apart, so reports the MnDaily. Props to U of Mn professor Mihai Marasteanu for his quotes: Cuts could force Minneapolis to slow its assault on potholes | mndaily.com - Serving the University of Minnesota Community Since 1900:

"‘We have a very large system that was built many years ago,’ University of Minnesota civil engineering professor Mihai Marasteanu said. ‘Right now we are [at] the point in time where we need to invest to keep it at a reasonable level.’

Marasteanu said he believed the city was doing the best it could given budget constraints, but repairs will only get more expensive in the future if there isn’t enough maintenance now.

‘This is a big issue,’ Marasteanu said. ‘There’s a huge gap between what is needed and what is actually spent.’"

The headline "assault on potholes" and its military metaphor is like the DMZ museum, where the South Korean military described its successive victories at points farther and farther south on the Korean peninsula.

I will just add that the budget constraints are false constraints. City roads are in more terrible condition than County or State roads. Priorities are not set right (witness the city bidding for the Vikings stadium). There are lots of solutions to fund roads, and if people believed the funds would actually go to fix those bad roads, they would get support in many places (though not everywhere).

2 Comments

Another possible contributing factor: A lack of competition to keep prices low and quality high. I understand that all street and sidewalk construction and repair in the cit is done by a city department. Neither the City of Minneapolis or the City of St. Paul uses competetive bidding for paving or pot hole repair. Is it possible that the lack of competition raises costs?

@Jay, I don't disagree. But I don't think competitive bidding is the whole solution. Suppose instead the city auctioned to bidders the right to maintain roads (and be responsible for some quality of service), and bidders would bid for the price they charge, low bid wins. So whoever bid the lowest to ensure a particular quality would get a 20? year contract and be responsible. The city would get good roads (at a price, which would be passed on to users or neighbors in some fashion). The incentive for higher quality construction would be in place as the private road-builder would be accountable. Failure to deliver roads according to standard would result in penalty. My fear with this approach is the contracts would be too long, and the lawyers would get too much $.

David Levinson

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