Nesvig: Road, bridge upgrades a priority in Traill County

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Posted: Friday, October 26, 2018 5:30 am

Editor's note: This week’s Banner includes two guest columns from Ken Nesvig and Ben Hershey, candidates running from District 3 for the Traill County Board of Commissioners in November.

The paper published responses from both candidates about a variety of issues, including the shuttered Nielsville (Minn.) bridge, leading up to the primary election back in June.

Rather than pose the same questions to the candidates prior to the Nov. 6 general election,  we asked Nesvig and Hershey if they’d be willing to write an op-ed piece touching on topics they’d want to stress to voters prior to the election.

Nesvig and Hershey quickly agreed.

We applaud both candidates for helping us out – and for their good-natured responses.

In a follow-up email, Nesvig asked that we make sure to remind voters that he likes puppies.

Informed of Nesvig’s stance, Hershey said he, too, loves puppies, and that his kids are hoping to receive a new one next spring.

Voters can’t go wrong on election day picking between two candidates who are both pro-puppy.

The Banner has been gracious enough to allow candidates for the Traill County Commission space to introduce themselves and to address any issue they feel is important to the people of Traill County. 

I have decided to use this opportunity to reintroduce myself and also highlight the challenges we face maintaining and improving  the infrastructure in Traill County.

  I’ve had the privilege of serving as Commissioner from District 3 for the last four years and I thank the people of Traill County for their support.

 It’s been rewarding, challenging and at times frustrating. 

Traill County has been home my entire life other than the two years spent in the Army. 

My wife, Kate, and I have been married 42 years and have two children. 

We live on the family farm where I grew up.  

I have been involved with agriculture my entire life, either as a producer or a supplier. 

Currently I sell seed for Betaseed, a supplier of high-quality sugar beet seed.  

  Traill County has special challenges when it comes to infrastructure. 

Because of numerous rivers, we have over 350 bridges and structures to maintain along with 150 miles of pavement. 

It’s estimated that Traill County needs to spend $2.5 million dollars a year on infrastructure maintenance and improvements.

Currently we have $1.5 million available.   Any discussion on infrastructure always includes the excise tax on gasoline and diesel and the Highway Trust Fund.

The federal tax on gasoline and diesel fuel has not been raised since 1993.

Increases in 1990 and 1993 went toward deficit reduction. North Dakota made an adjustment in 2005.

Since 1993, inflation has eroded the purchasing power of the fund by 65 percent, along with improved gas mileage resulting in less revenue per mile driven.

This leaves us with an insolvent Highway Trust Fund.

Congress has been making periodic and unpredictable transfers from the General Fund from the U.S. Treasury.

Currently the federal tax on gas is 18.4 cents per gallon and 24.4 cents on diesel.

North Dakota adds another 23 cents on both.   The average by state is 31 cents.

The American Society of Engineers estimates that by 2025, it will take $4.5 trillion to fix the infrastructure in this country.

Roughly 143 billion gallons of gasoline and 35 billion gallons of diesel are consumed each year in this country, so it’s obvious that a slight adjustment in the excise tax could go a long way in addressing the shortfall.

In my own case, a nickel per gallon increase would cost me far less than my cell phone and cable TV bills.

With a small, fair sacrifice from all of us that use the highways and bridges, we can fix the infrastructure and avoid leaving a wreck for the generations to come.

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