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All the reasons the Met Council screwed up $BIG TIME by forcing light rail

O'Toole TM Met Council cover 4.17

The latest issue of the Center’s fantastic quarterly magazine, Thinking Minnesota, has a terrific piece by transportation expert Randal O’Toole that delineates all the reasons the Met Council screwed up BIG TIME by forcing light rail on everyone.  If you didn’t receive your issue in the mail be sure to send your name and address to to get your FREE subscription. Fun facts revealed include that the word “light” in light rail doesn’t refer to weight (light-rail cars weigh more than heavy-rail cars) but to capacity as light rail is, by definition, low-capacity transit.  Also, for the same cost as...

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Transportation Omnibus Bill: VETOED

congested road

There is a lot to like in terms of spending for roads, airports and freight. In fact, it follows and improves on the Center’s 2015 Policy Blueprint. The bill includes bonding and eliminates funding for passenger rail. Here’s the big concession: metro counties are given the power to raise the local transit sales tax to half a cent to pay for building and operating transit without a referendum. ...

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$800 million bonding bill rejected by House as too small


Here is Rep. Dean Urdahl: “It is a little bit disconcerting to me to realize that there are members here who are prepared to vote against projects that are vital to their district,” he said. “I implore you to consider what you’re doing and why. We can’t say that we voted ‘no’ on local projects because $800 million isn’t enough money.”...

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Dayton Veto of Transportation Bill Threatens Duluth Airport

Duluth Airport

Roads and bridges understandably attract most of the attention when it comes to transportation funding at the legislature. But the Duluth News Tribune reminds us that Minnesota airports also depend on the transportation bill for critical matching support for federal grants for runway maintenance and operational upgrades. Duluth Airport Authority officials pulled back all the way on the throttle in a letter informing Gov. Dayton of the potential consequences of his veto of the transportation bill passed by the Minnesota House of Representatives and Senate. ...

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Backlash Against Bike Lanes Erupts in Minneapolis

Bike Lane

The backlash against bicyclists took long enough to get here. But it broke out full force today in an unlikely place--the Star Tribune's op-ed page. Minneapolis resident Barbara Nylen rips the bi-wheeled crusaders and city planners who converted miles of city streets meant to move cars into bike lanes, utterly disregarding the views of the majority. Nylen also decried the city's double standard that gives bikers equal footing with motorized vehicles on the road, but not equal responsibility.  Also, whatever happened to city officials who make automobile drivers follow rules, but obviously not bike riders? Car drivers must wear seat belts....

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Quick update on transit and transportation issues at the Capitol


Revised: The end of session actions taken by Republicans are somewhat disorienting given the fact that the transportation bill coming out of the House was very good and the signals from the Senate seemed good, as well. Then it went to conference committee. What came out was very different. Before the Legislature got the bill ready to send to Gov. Dayton today, apparently leadership opted to anticipate what Dayton would do, and removed most if not all offending language....

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Is Southwest LRT going to derail the transportation bill again?

Thomas the Tank off tracks

Minnesota does not have to have a transportation bill this year. Just like last year, there is tax and bonding money in the pipeline so a lot of things can get handled anyway. But we have not had a bill in years and the roads I drive on are worthy of the third world. You may recall that Southwest LRT threw the session into chaos in the Senate last year. That meant the transportation bill tanked and the entire state got nothing for roads or transit, all because of a slavish devotion by Metro DFLer’s to one $2 billion train....

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US Transportation Officials: No Federal Funds for Troubled Southwest Light Rail

Cut Spending

Hold everything. Top U.S. Department of Transportation officials have informed Minnesota legislators the controversial Southwest Light Rail Transit line does not qualify for $928 million in make-or-break federal funding necessary for the Metropolitan Council to start construction as planned this year. The announcement came from the Federal Transit Administration in response to a letter from Minnesota House Speaker Kurt Daudt and 83 Republican state legislators who expressed concern over SWLRT’s “financial plan, potential environmental impacts, alignment and projected ridership.” Rep. Jason Lewis, R-Minn., has also urged FTA to reject funding. The FTA oversees the federal New Starts program that provides 50 percent...

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Legislators Go Their Own Way on Roads


Earmark has been a dirty word since Congress banned the practice following the fury over Alaska's $223 million "Bridge to Nowhere." But now earmarks--the directing of public funds to specific works projects--may be making a comeback. Not in DC, at least not yet, but among Minnesota lawmakers who told the Pioneer Press that MnDOT can't be trusted to be in charge of all road construction projects. As Minnesota leaders debate how much new money to put toward the state’s roads, they’re also fighting about a related issue: who should choose which roads get attention? Ordinarily, the Legislature appropriates money for roads and...

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