Study Says MN Is a Smart Transportation Planner

The state was recognized as a leader in transportation planning, due in large part to the manner in which it tracks highway congestion and the data made available to policymakers.

Minnesota is a national leader when it comes to tracking data that is used to make intelligent transportation policy and spending decisions, according to a report released on Wednesday by the Pew Center on the States and the Rockefeller Foundation.

The report, titled “Measuring Transportation Investments: The Road to Results,” found significant disparities among how different states set goals for transportation spending. It examined six performance measures: safety, jobs and commerce, mobility, access, environmental stewardship, and infrastructure preservation.

Minnesota-which spent about $3.19 billion on transportation in the 2010 fiscal year-is a leader in how it measures return on that investment, the report says. Minnesota tracks performance measures for 10 separate policy areas identified in its 2028 Statewide Transportation Policy Plan-including adapting transportation needs of a growing and aging population and reducing congestion across the 9 percent of the state's highway system that experiences roughly half of the state's overall highway traffic. (The Department of Transporation's report is available for download here.)

The state also received high marks in the “access” category-due in part to performance measures related to public transit services.

“Lawmakers in Minnesota have access to solid information and data to help them make smart transportation policy and spending choices,” Robert Zahradnik, Pew Center's director of research, said in a statement. “But as the Pew-Rockefeller report demonstrates, even states that are leading the way still have room for improvement. As states wrestle with fiscal challenges, they should know what they are getting for their transportation dollars.”

The report examined states based on more than 800 performance, planning, and budget documents. They were then placed in one of three categories: leading, mixed results, or trailing behind. Minnesota was named one of 13 leading states overall and one of the top five for how it tracks progress made within its transportation system. The other overall leaders as identified by the report are California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, Missouri, Montana, Oregon, Texas, Utah, Virginia, and Washington.

Citing a state tax gas increase that occurred a few years ago in Minnesota, the report suggests that other states should look to Minnesota as an example of how to use transportation spending to benefit jobs and commerce.

Download the full report here.