To the editor:

With over 400,000 residents, Dakota County is the third most populous county in Minnesota. Our residents, whether commuters or employees of our local industries, rely on a safe and effective transportation system. County government plays an important role, managing the upkeep for a vast network of roads. A completed county study recommends the addition of five county routes (County Roads 86, 28, 63, 23 and 70) for “principal arterial” status, a designation that identifies unique needs for safe and time-efficient travel.

With development and growth comes more semi-trucks on our county roads. Trucks’ role in local industry is important, but we must work to balance the needs of our infrastructure and public safety with commerce. Proposals in Congress to increase truck size and weight disrupt that balance, tipping the scales in favor of profits for a select few shipping companies at the expense of motorist safety and taxpayers’ dollars. In particular, raising truck weights from 80,000 to 91,000 pounds, and the length of double tractor-trailers to 91 feet (10 feet longer than today’s legal limits), would be uniquely damaging to our infrastructure.

Dakota County is dealing with estimates of a nearly $600 million shortfall over the next 20 years in terms of transportation funding. Coming up with the necessary funds to maintain our infrastructure under existing conditions poses a difficult challenge that will demand efficient use of limited resources. The additional damage, and costs, caused by bigger trucks would be forced upon county taxpayers.

We value the industries that make Dakota County prosperous and seek to maintain the delicate balance between growth and the quality of our infrastructure and our residents’ safety. Longer and heavier trucks would represent a clear shift away from that balance.

Thomas Egan

Dakota County commissioner, District 3

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