‘Tis the season of road construction


The summer road construction season is once again upon us, adding a sense of adventure and delight to both our road trips and daily commutes. Minnesota Public Radio anticipates a busier-than-normal construction schedule, promising drivers hours of additional access to exhaust clouds and angrily blaring horns while sitting on parking lots such as the 35W/Highway 62 interchange.

MnDOT has announced plans to work on 283 individual road construction projects during the season, including repaving of Metro highways and a major resurfacing project near Duluth. And so perhaps this makes it a good time for Minnesotans to start thinking about other travel options.

The interest is certainly there. Nationwide, surveys more people willing to explore more transportation options. The numbers point decisively in one direction as a convincing number of Americans now say that they would welcome alternatives to their regular grinding, patience-draining commutes. According to the group Transportation for America:

  • 82 percent say that “the United States would benefit from an expanded and improved transportation system, such as rail and buses”

  • 59% of voters choose improving public transportation and making it easier to walk and bike over building more roads and expanding existing roads

Interestingly, nearly 80% of rural voters voiced their support of expanded systems, “despite much lower use of public transportation compared to Americans in urban areas.” Minnesotans have made their preference clear as well. Residents of the state have ranked transportation ahead of both crime and the economy as the issue most important to them. And, according to a recent MN2020 report, ridership on Greater Minnesota’s transit systems has grown more than 20 percent during the past five years.

Clearly, the sentiment is there. Now it’s up to individual Minnesotans to show support. Our transit systems won’t be expanded if no one is riding the current routes.

Annual upkeep and road construction will never disappear, nor should it, but by opting to take public transportation when available, Minnesotans can mitigate the exasperation caused by the hours spent idly sitting on sun-baked blacktop. This summer, shake things up a bit. Start investigating some of the other options before jumping in your car and parking it on a local highway.