Ask Us: Electric Vehicle Owners Are Not Complete Highway Repair Sponges | Local News

Question: I use unleaded gasoline to fill my combustion engine car. When I do, I pay a tax to maintain and build new roads. Electric cars use the same roads as I do but pay no gasoline tax. If electric car sales increase, the tax base will certainly decrease. Does Governor Walz have any plans to address this upcoming issue?

A: If he does, he doesn’t tell Ask Us Guy.

This question was forwarded to the communications department of the governor’s office, but the answer did not come from there.

While it wouldn’t have been surprising if the hot potato topic was referred to the Department of Transportation, it actually ended up in the hands of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.

Ask Us Guy isn’t sure exactly why the MPCA got there, but he ended up learning something he didn’t know about transportation funding from the MPCA’s communications director. Ask Us Guy surmised that the state fuel tax of just under 29 cents per gallon was the main source of highway revenue in Minnesota and electric vehicle drivers were absent when it came to contributing at the source of road repair dollars.

This is not the case, according to Darin Broton of the MPCA. The proceeds from the fuel tax represent only about a third of the road fund.

“A large majority of the funding comes from vehicle sales tax and registration fees,” Broton said. “Electric vehicle owners pay a little more in these fees than people buying standard cars and trucks because of the cost of the vehicles. … There is also an annual surcharge of $ 75 that EV owners pay for their vehicles.

Electric vehicle drivers are therefore by no means full-fledged picnics. Nonetheless, alternative funding for the gasoline tax will need to be found as more and more people switch to electric vehicles.

“As our transportation system continues to shift to electric vehicles, federal, state and local policymakers will need to review long-term funding options for infrastructure,” he said.

Question: To my knowledge, the roads are not sealed on an annual basis. Is there a reason they are not?

It seems asphalt and concrete driveways should have this practice to extend driveway life, so it makes sense that our roads and highways follow the same logic.

A: The basis for this question is probably the “on an annual basis” part because area cities, counties and even the Minnesota Department of Transportation permanently seal streets and highways. Anyone driving the area this month has likely found themselves at some point in a freshly treated street or road – the tar-like substance used as a sealant and the thick layer of rock peas or chippings of rock spread over the top. After traffic has compressed the rocks in the tar for a few days, the loose rocks are swept up and the roads are repainted. (By the way, the small stones aren’t there just to keep cars from being smeared with tar. They are necessary to ensure that the asphalt road always provides good traction for drivers.)

As for how often roads are covered with waterproof pavement, Ask Us Guy asked Blue Earth’s public works manager Ryan Thilges, who is responsible for over 400 miles of paved roads in the county, as well as a few hundred miles of gravel roads. . All of these paved roads have at least two lanes, many have three or four. So that’s a lot of asphalt and concrete.

“We do about 45 miles of seal coats per year,” Thilges said.

This allows all asphalt paved roads to be coated every seven to ten years.

The process delays the oxidation of the road surface, which would otherwise become brittle and more susceptible to damage from vehicles and inclement weather.

“This is a critical pavement preservation activity,” he said.

So why not do all the roads every year, as some owners do with their driveways?

“It’s not practical or really necessary to do it every year on the roads,” Thilges said, adding that the sealant the county uses is both more durable and more expensive than what people buy in the store. home renovation. “The stuff we put on our roads is a little more expensive than the black goop you see people spreading down their alleys.”

Contact us at The Free Press, 418 S. Second St., Mankato, MN 56001. Call Mark Fischenich at 344-6321 or send your question to mfischenich@mankatofreepress.com; put Ask Us in the subject line.


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