Do We Owe Waldorf Anything?

We’ve all heard that the current administration is hoping to pump $1 Trillion dollars into infrastructure spending in the coming years. This type of rhetoric has been slung by almost every President since I’ve been alive and probably more. “We need to fix our roads and bridges!” often evoking the painful memories of the 35W bridge collapse in Minnesota. Who could be so heartless as to not want to fix a bridge?

These proposals are often innocuous, or at least so vanilla that they are palatable to members of any political affiliation (except members of the Strong Towns party). They often claim to have bipartisan support or at least aim to.

The problem with these bills is that they are high-level. Drafted almost like there is some kind of infrastructure vending machine that we can throw money into and expect great results. The reality, however, is obviously far tougher.

This is becoming evident in the tiny town of Waldorf, MN. They have asked the state legislature for $2m (a paltry amount) to fix their near defunct sewer and water system. The residents and local officials have already figured out a way to raise $10m to cover the rest of the expenses, the amount they are requesting from the state is the gap. A city of 250ish people, Waldorf’s bill would settle up at around $40k per person (not including the tip.)

However, this begs the awkward question… Why should we pay for this?

Literally Waldorf

On the outside, it’s pretty clear that Waldorf does very little for the state as a whole and that even fixing its infrastructure is probably not going to save it from its inevitable death. It’s not on a railway, it’s not on a river, and it’s not on a major highway, this would be giving a new liver to stage 5 cancer patient.

It’s somewhat in the American ethos to “settle the land” and I think some of that “manifest destiny” ideology has held on for a long time, but a loss is a loss any way you cut the cake. While what they are asking for is small, it simply serves no purpose and benefits a stark minority. This is not taking into account the LGA that the city probably already receives or the subsidies for the highway that appears to serve them alone.

Waldorf is a canary in the coal mine for many Minnesota communities, it’s the victim of the urbanization and suburbanization along with the death of family farms. I actually feel quite bad, I think that small towns just like Waldorf add to the rich tapestry of rural culture that we have in Minnesota, but feelings don’t repair necessary infrastructure.

If we are not going to fix their infrastructure, the question now is does the state resettle them? Does the state owe them, as citizens, money to move somewhere else? No matter your view on what should happen, I think that the Waldorf situation and others like it will raise serious ethical questions in the years to come.

Thanks to Lakes  n Woods for the feature image

Why this whole “fix our roads” thing is a crock of crap

If you’ve paid any attention to local politics (I know, it’s hard to watch anything other than “The Donald”) You’ll know that if we don’t pass “sustained road funding” everyone in the state will die from starvation as no goods or people will be able to get around anywhere. EVER AGAIN.


Don’t believe me? A quick google search will bring up some great results.

Here’s some opinion pieces from the St. Cloud Times, The Post Bulletin, and the Free Press.

I’m glad we have these local newspapers to take such a hard stance on road funding. Apparently it’s so obvious that we need road funding that it’s no-brainer when it comes to op-ed pieces. “Just get more money and build the roads, right guyz?”

Yeah. That simple. Except if it were so simple, we would have done it already.

The truth of the matter is, it’s a load of crap, pretty much all of it (with a few exceptions.) The system is broken in it’s entirety and no matter what anyone promises with new road funding, none of it will solve the systemic problem that we’ve built too much.

I’m not going to disagree with you that there are bad roads out there that need fixing, nor am I going to disagree with the fact that the system needs to be funded and funded sustainably, what I am telling you is that unless the system shrinks and we address more pertinent issues, we’ll never get out of this pit.

Iowa, our cool southern neighbor, has already realized this and is planning accordingly. If you want to read more on this and essentially a better version of the article you’re reading now click here.

Again, I’m going to tell you this, our biggest problem isn’t transportation funding, it’s terrible land use. Say it with me “TERRIBLE LAND USE”

We recently heard that Mankato is going to dump a bunch of money into a road pushing east, a road that has essentially no development on it, nor will it in the foreseeable future. It’s being hailed as “necessary” because it “will be the busiest intersection eva in 30 years or somethin’ like that. lol

Let’s not forget that, more or less, the SAME CLAIM was made about victory drive extension as promoting economic growth. So, how much “economic growth” showed up for that $12.5M extension of Victory Drive? By my count, there’s 131 acres of primo, undeveloped land abutting (or close enough) to Victory Drive. Hey, we’ve made WAY worse decisions if it’s any consolation.

Do you think our roads have magically deteriorated to the point they are in the last 10 years? I guarantee the roads were in largely the same shape 10 years ago when the city approved this ridiculously wasteful expansion of Victory Drive. Now they want the same thing for Adams. Continue Reading

You want to be an Ag city? Great. Start here:

A diversified economy is somewhat of a modern phenomenon. As technology and transportation progressed, location wasn’t as large a factor when it came to production of goods. Hallstatt, Austria was pretty much solely built for the salt mines and plenty of cities in Appalachia are still employed by coal.With these industries other merchants make their way to town. Restaurants, brothels, hotels, bars, you name it. They all show up.

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