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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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Backlash Over Bikes In Rochester

Tensions over bike lanes have boiled over in Rochester, Minnesota where bikes and bike lanes have become a contentious issue in the City Council Elections. According to an MPR article, many people in the community are worried adding more bike lanes will result in slower traffic and fear that there will be fewer parking spaces available in an area where parking spaces are already scarce. According to the article: "There are people who will wait until I finish my spiel, and say 'Do you ride a bike? And if you do, I will not vote for you,'" Patrick Keane, who is running...

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Met Council has a new director of equal opportunity but not enough bus drivers. Some Routes Suspended.

One of the Met Council’s core functions is transit. I could not help wondering if the Council focused more on delivering good transit, rather than trying to re-arrange the metro area according to its own “progressive” political and social agenda maybe it would not find itself without enough drivers. ...

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Southwest LRT Summer Newsletter: spending, delays continue while total costs rise

For your summer reading: The Met Council's pet project SWLRT, now largely shifted onto the back of Hennepin County taxpayers, has been delayed again. And yet the Council is spending tax dollars anyway even though it has not received a federal grant. This is "good" news, as good as it gets short of a full denial by the FTA. My prediction is SWRLT will not be funded in 2018. ...

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Driver Frustration Mounts Over I-35 in Minneapolis

Frustration over MnDOT's clumsy management of the I-35W construction project in Minneapolis has driven some motorists over the line. The Star Tribune's coverage of drivers' misdeeds amounts to the equivalent of laying on the horn in the newspaper. Signs on both sides of the entrance ramp leading from 31st Street and Stevens Avenue to southbound I-35W tell motorists, “Do Not Enter.” Yet dozens of vehicles an hour are blowing right by them to use the ramp reserved exclusively for buses and emergency vehicles. The same thing is happening on the ramp from northbound I-35W to 31st and Lake Streets, even though the...

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Why is the Ramsey County board going to waste up to $2 billion on a pointless streetcar?

Why do we need to spend up to $2 billion on a streetcar from Union Depot to the airport and the Mall of America when the 54 bus already runs along exactly the proposed route? Kids like playing with train sets. Most people grow out of that. If you didn't, get yourself on the Ramsey County board. Like my old Thomas the Tank Engine toys, the West 7th streetcar is nothing more than a train set. The difference is that my Island of Sodor didn't cost $2 billion and shut down a major road for three years.  ...

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Radio Traffic Reporter Agrees: We Need More Lanes

While driving back to the Golden Valley area from my parents’ house in Wisconsin, I caught the tail end of a Twin Cities traffic update. The report was as expected: car fire here, accident there, traffic congestion from construction everywhere. But what caught my attention was the announcer’s final comment on all the road construction projects currently underway....

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Why do regional planners ignore the future of transportation?

The Weekly Standard recently ran a perceptive piece: The End of the Line: Light rail is a very expensive way to move very few commuters.  Lately communities have been hitting the brakes on funding light rail.  Last month Nashville’s tax increase went down 2-1 at the polls, and Virginia Beach voters turned down light rail in 2016.  Tampa and San Antonio are smartly pushing plans that rely on more buses. “Even in cities where light rail is touted as a success, such as Portland, Ore., light rail accounts for just 0.9 percent of miles traveled.”  The number for the Twin Cities...

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