The Impact of Deferred Maintenance in Minnesota

Principal Investigator(s):

Camila Fonseca Sarmiento, Director of Fiscal Research, Humphrey School of Public Affairs


  • Zhirong Zhao, Former U of M Faculty, Humphrey School of Public Affairs

Project summary:

This project uses a combination of methods — case studies, statistical models, and surveys — to analyze maintenance expenditure patterns across different localities (cities and counties) in Minnesota, to explore how fiscal conditions affect maintenance expenditures, and to examine the negative impact of deferred maintenance on the Minnesota local road system. The goal of this research is to generate information that city and county engineers can use in discussions with elected officials to maintain an appropriate and consistent level of funding for maintenance.

Maintenance is defined as the work to keep the road surface in good repair, to extend the life of pavement, and to take care of roadway assets with pavement overlays, pavement crack sealing, full-depth reclamation, and similar treatments.

Expenditures for maintenance are not keeping pace with the needs of the transportation system. When local governments face fiscal stress, planned maintenance gets postponed to make funding available for other purposes. As deferred maintenance grows, the work and investments needed to bring an asset into a good condition grow, too. The failure to keep up with maintenance has significant negative impacts on asset life, leading to higher future maintenance costs and a threat to the safety and health of the population using the facility.

Project details: