FARGO — Fargo Assistant City Engineer Tom Knakmuhs said a report on the conditions of roads and bridges from a Washington, D.C., group called TRIP released this week appeared to be inaccurate and misleading.
"I don't know where they got their information," Knakmuhs said.
The report listed that in Fargo, for example, 62, or 6%, of bridges were in poor condition, and that there were 1,127 bridges overall.
Knakmuhs said there are only about 100 bridges in Fargo.
The report also listed the top three congested areas. One of them was Interstate 29 and 64th Avenue South, which is a relatively rural area with only homes on the east side and not much of a high-traffic area.
The report listed 26% of Fargo's streets in poor condition, which Knakmuhs said simply isn't accurate, either.
"We have some work to do, but definitely there's not that many roads in poor condition," he said.
When contacted by The Forum, Rocky Moretti, who wrote the report for TRIP, said the information listed as "Fargo" was from the Federal Highway Administration for the "Fargo urban area."
Moretti's employer is a private, nonprofit organization that has been researching, evaluating, and distributing economic and technical data on transportation issues since 1971.
"Fargo urban area," he said, is a seven-county area that even includes Wilkin County in Minnesota. The report never listed those other counties and in many of the charts it simply said "Fargo."
When told the report was causing some confusion, Moretti emphasized that it wasn't only about Fargo municipal roads but also those in the larger "urban area" that is maintained by a number of local and state units of government across those seven counties.
Asked about the noted congestion area on 64th Avenue and I-29, he said he got that information from the North Dakota Department of Transportation. The other two areas listed as congested were Main Avenue from University Drive to 25th Street and 19th Avenue from Interstate 29 to University Drive near Hector International Airport.
Knakmuhs doubted any of those are the most congested areas. The report said 17 hours of time are lost each year because of congestion on those roads, at a cost of $321 per driver in lost time and wasted fuel.
What the report didn't list is that all three of those "congested" areas are slated for improvements in the coming few years, with work on a bridge crossing over I-29 on 64th Avenue South starting this summer and slated for completion next year.
The report pointed out the need for more funding sources as "gas tax revenues are likely to erode" with better fuel efficiencies in vehicles and more electric cars coming onto the roadways.
The state's Prairie Dog Fund that was set up to provide more infrastructure money to cities and counties to help with local projects was also mentioned, which Knakmuhs appreciated.
He said the city would like to have that program fully funded, as they didn't receive most of the money that was promised earlier, in part due to the pandemic.
The fund started with $125 million for local governments to address transportation needs. But because of the pandemic and the huge dip in oil prices, only $44 million had been distributed as of last November, said the report.
Knakmuhs didn't know the status of the Prairie Dog funding for this year.
The assistant city engineer said the city would prefer more funding put into the Prairie Dog Fund in a grant or aid type of program than using a loan program to cities that is proposed in a bonding bill that is still alive in the Legislature. A gas tax increase that would have helped fund road and bridge work was defeated in the Legislature earlier this session.
Nationally, President Joe Biden has proposed a huge investment in transportation and infrastructure funding, but it's unknown how much or if a bill can be approved as it results in a tax hike for corporations and wealthy individuals.