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MN City Battles Feds and State to Close Small Airport

The city of Silver Bay can no longer afford the luxury of spending $35,000 a year maintaining a municipal airport. “I’ve got 20 some miles of 50-year old road,” Silver Bay Mayor Scott Johnson said. “Don’t you think I should spend some maintenance on that instead of the airport?” But neither can the small northeastern Minnesota city afford to close the deteriorating airfield, faced with the threat of $10,000 a day in fines by the Federal Aviation Administration and a bill for $760,000 in “free” government grants the feds and state want to claw back. “I think they’re (the FAA) is going to...

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Bigger Boondoggle, MNLARS or Kirk Cousins?

The Minnesota Licensing and Registration System (MNLARS) was supposed to be the future for our state. Instead of long lines, bad waiting room music, and having to take time off work to run to the DVS, MNLARS promised all of these functions could be easily, and affordably, be transferred over to an efficient, secure, online service. Unfortunately, it hasn't worked out that way. MNLARS has gotten better since its disastrous roll-out in 2017, but it is hard to argue the service is worth the $93 million already paid out for the program. What's worse, officials from the Dayton Administration estimated the additional...

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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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Public Safety Does It Again with Long Delays for Driver’s Licenses

Minnesota motorists can't get a break. The Dayton Administration's Department of Public Safety continues to struggle to salvage the disastrous roll-out of the motor and vehicle registration system that has rivaled the MNsure state health exchange  for technical malfeasance.  Nearly a year and a half later, the so-called MNLARS system remains tens of millions of dollars over budget and in dire need of expensive technical triage. Yet now comes word via the Star Tribune that many applicants for new driver's licences face their own frustrating delays in customer service for road tests and licenses. New driver Priscilla Thomas said the state told...

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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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The Fading Relevance of Mass Transit: Must-Listen Podcast

American mass transit systems face challenges from demographics, how people work, and ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft. Randal O’Toole discusses what agencies should do to respond. In short, mass transit is becoming less popular, not more. [embed]https://cdn.cato.org/dailypodcast/The%20Fading%20Relevance%20of%20Mass%20Transit.mp3[/embed]    ...

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MnDOT Demands Another Amtrak Train Despite Big Ridership Decline

MnDOT wants to add a second Amtrak train between Chicago and the Twin Cities. By the front page story in the Star Tribune, you'd likely think ridership on the taxpayer-subsidized passenger line must be on the upswing. Adding a second daily passenger train between St. Paul’s Union Depot and downtown Chicago, a proposal that has been bandied about for many years, would likely cost from $137 million to $169 million. But it’s unclear at this point how the project would be funded, and by whom, says a new study. But the paper left out an inconvenient fact on the campaign underway to double...

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