There was strong concern for the environment and a desire to reduce the environmental impacts of transportation.
Highways and roads were still seen as vital, but other modes like buses, trains, planes, shipping, bicycles, etc. were also seen as critical to the future quality of life and economic competitiveness of the state. Although there was some tension between the quality and the quantity of options available, having options for different types of trips was emphasized.
Concerns were raised about the maintainability of all types of infrastructure, not just transportation. Nonetheless, participants urged that the vision should advocate for a set of systems that can be maintained over a long period of time. Likewise, participants expressed the desire for a
sustained policy commitment.
Transportation is ultimately about connections. Three types of connections were emphasized: 1) regional centers need to be connected to each other; 2) the state needs to be connected to the coasts and other major markets; and 3) key resources within communities and neighborhoods need to be connected to each other.
It is critical that transportation systems are accessible to a wide range of user abilities – both economic and physical, particularly with an aging population.
New technology will fundamentally change our society and transportation system. Automation in vehicles will likely improve safety, reduce the impacts of congestion, and could open the way for new public transportation business models. In addition, energy efficiency and other technologies will reduce the impact on the environment. Furthermore, telecommunications and other technological breakthroughs may change the overall demand for transportation.
Given the constraint on resources, it was clear that each investment needs to be clearly thought out, evaluated not only on its own merits but in relation to other possible investments. Additionally, to the extent practicable, each transportation investment should also support broader environmental, economic and health goals.
Infrastructure is necessary but insufficient to achieving environmental health, quality of life and economic competitiveness. Human Capital, innovation, governance and healthy natural systems must also be in place. To the extent that infrastructure investments enhance these assets within its communities, Minnesota will see greater returns.
Ultimately, Minnesota will look different in the future. Exactly how was hotly debated. However, one strong theme was that we probably don’t have everything that we will ultimately need, and we likely will not need everything we currently have.