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Metro Transit: The most dangerous LRT system in America?

This post originally appeared at katana community on January 24, 2019. This last Friday you may have seen a story on KARE11 or KSTP about how a Metro Transit Light Rail Transit (LRT) driver killed Nicholas Westlake in July 2017 when the train's driver blew through a clear stop signal and broadsided Westlake's car.  Representative Linda Runbeck of Circle Pines is now introducing a bill in the Minnesota House that would allow criminal charges to be brought against LRT drivers in such situations, as state law currently disallows this.(!) I recommend you  watch the stories to get the full details. But the detail I want to...

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Dayton Approves Huge Raises for Government Employees On His Way Out the Door

Gov. Mark Dayton has approved large pay increases for 22 government officials, including 7 employees of the Metropolitan Council, who already make well over $100,000 per year. This is why people have little faith that their government is working for them, and not the other way around. According to a CBS news report, Minnesota law says local governments cannot pay employees more than 110 percent of a governor’s salary, which is $127,000. But they can apply for a waiver. The state does give permission, but not often: out of hundreds of requests, it has agreed to only 77 times in the last 21 years:...

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Someone Better Tell the Met Council Planners: Millennials Moving to the Suburbs in Droves for Better Schools and Bigger Houses

Uh-oh. Someone at the "density is destiny" crowd in Minneapolis and at the Met Council that millennials may not be the lovers of urban living they have been chalked up to be. As, millennials marry later and have kids later, it may prolong their stay in the cities, but it appears that once they start having children they prioritize the larger spaces, more-affordable housing, and better schools found in the suburbs. The story posted below originally appeared in Axios. For years, an unwavering certitude of industry, think tanks, demographers, policy-makers and city planners everywhere has been that humanity is moving to the...

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Southwest LRT funding has left the station: Will Trump Insist that Met Council Appointments Follow Federal Law?

Minnesota is now on track to spend $2.03 billion for about 15 miles of track. Note that you can add road lanes for about 10% of that cost. My theory has always been that Hennepin County voters think that someone else is going to take the LRT so they can drive with less congestion. When Southwest LRT fails to reduce congestion in the west metro, perhaps Minnesotans will choose more wisely at the polls. The construction phase of the LRT ought to provide plenty of down-time in traffic to think about it. Is there anything you can do to help? ...

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Minnesota’s Roads Receive a Dismal D-Plus Rating

Minnesota’s beleaguered road system received the lowest grade of all — a D-plus. Roads across the state are in poor condition, and congestion in the Twin Cities means motorists spend an average of 41 hours in rush-hour traffic every year, a slog that costs drivers $1,332 each in commuting expenses annually....

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Federal Agencies Scrutinize Met Council Compliance

The Met Council’s exemption from a federal requirement for Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPO) to have local elected officials, rather than political appointees, in charge of spending and policy decisions could be revoked, depending on the outcome of a review underway by the U.S. Department of Transportation. The Met Council remains the only MPO in the nation to be exempted from a requirement designed to hold regional governments accountable to the constituents subject to their decisions. But Federal Transit Administration Highway (FTA) and Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) officials recently announced they will “undertake further review of the Met Council’s compliance with Federal requirements...

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Lewis Doubles Down on Met Council Accountability

On Wednesday August 29th, Rep, Jason Lewis hosted a round table event to discuss increasing the accountability of the Met Council. The context for the meeting was that Rep. Lewis has attached an amendment to the house bill that would reauthorize the Federal Aviation Administration, and that amendment would require the Met Council to have elected officials on its board – as is the case for every other 400 or so such boards across the country. Our local situation of having a regional authority completely overseen by unelected officials is so egregiously out of line with political norms and legal requirements...

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How government can keep housing affordable for everyone: stop making housing more expensive and stop trying to help

Before our legislature or local governments try anything new, or tap more taxpayers dollars, they should first analyze how state and local regulations drive the costs of building and maintaining rental and other housing, especially for people who are cost sensitive: students, young people just getting a start and for low-income residents, including the elderly who are in fixed incomes....

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Much Ado About Something at the Met Council

A series of curious events over the last six weeks related to the Southwest Light Rail project and key personnel at the Met Council suggest disarray at the Twin Cities’ unelected “regional authority”. First, with respect to the Southwest Light Rail (SWLRT) project, the Met Council has been battling lawsuits, its own misleading practices, and various self-inflicted delays in an effort to secure nearly a billion dollars in matching federal funding. One final battle appeared to be a lawsuit filed by the Twin Cities & Western railroad (TC&W) in opposition to the Council’s somewhat convoluted plan to buy and manage a critical...

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