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Will Transit Ridership Decline Mean End of Light Rail Boondoggles?

The Met Council's controversial $2 billion Southwest Light Rail Transit line still hangs on by a thread. So do proposed LRT lines in Nashville, San Antonio and Tampa, among other cities. At the same time, overall transit ridership continues to decline or even implode in many metro areas. The Cato transit expert who authored American Experiment's report on Twin Cities traffic congestion earlier this year, Randal O'Toole, emphasizes just how dramatic the drop-off has been in the Wall Street Journal. These proposals are questionable at best and reckless at worst, given that transit ridership—including bus and what little rail these regions have—is...

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Free Bridge Up For Grabs From MnDOT

If you’ve burned too many bridges over the years, don’t fret. The Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) can get you half a bridge back—for free. MnDOT is giving away its half of the historic Rainy River International Bridge (the other half belongs to Canada) as it is scheduled to be replaced with a new adjacent bridge beginning spring 2018 due to structural concerns. ...

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Study Derails Edina Commuter Rail Line

Never say never when it comes to another government study. Especially when it involves a pet project like a new commuter rail line in a recent Star Tribune report. But one Edina City Councilor came pretty close, reacting to a costly draft study on the viability of a passenger rail line proposed for the Dan Patch corridor paralleling Highway 100. City staffers and St. Paul-based consultants Kimley-Horn recommended that the council stop looking at rail possibilities in the corridor for the time being, a move strongly backed by Council Member Bob Stewart. Stewart called the city’s efforts to study passenger rail options along the...

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Met Council Attempts to Explain Away OLA Audit Findings: Will the FTA Care?

For all I know, the FTA’s New Starts grant program tells applicants, “Lie to me, tell me what I want to hear so I can give you the billions in funds appropriated by Congress. Oh, and I am not going to require you to put away funds to replace the system when it wears out.” That would explain why the nation's transit system operates in the red, fails to relieve congestion and does not have the ridership it projected. How else did we get LRT in Minnesota?...

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Twin Cities Traffic Congestion Is Worse Than Ever

Yesterday's Star Tribune headlined: "Solutions sought with Twin Cities traffic at its most congested since 1993." The Minnesota Department of Transportation released its annual Twin Cities congestion report last week, and the news was kind of ominous. Congestion rose to its highest level since 1993, when the agency began tracking rush-hour traffic conditions and reporting them in its Metropolitan Freeway System Congestion Report. This year’s report found roads were jammed 23.7 percent of the time between 5 and 10 a.m. and 2 and 7 p.m. on weekdays. Even more foreboding is that roads are projected to be jammed 30 percent of the...

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OLA Jim Nobles Releases Critical Met Council Transit Audit: Legislative Leaders React

“Metropolitan Council staff told us they use one set of assumptions (based on historical state and local funding) when preparing their federal transportation financial plans, and different assumptions (based on current appropriations law) when preparing internal reports and information for the Minnesota Legislature.” OLA ...

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Backlash? Apparent Protest Planned Over Minneapolis Bike Lanes

Drivers in Minneapolis continue to have a rough time of it, as more car lanes go the way of bike lanes. Our recent report on traffic congestion highlighted one case in point on Washington Avenue from Hennepin Avenue to Fifth Avenue South. Commuters have endured road construction for months. But the wait may get even worse once work wraps up. Drivers will have two fewer lanes to get to the freeway, four instead of six, thanks to two newly installed lanes for bikes. Never mind the detrimental impact on the environment and economy, pointed out in our report. This congestion would...

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Twin Cities Traffic Armageddon

A critical stretch of Highway 35W, the Twin Cities' main North-South route, has been closed for the weekend. This closure caused howls of outrage from many Twin Cities residents, because four major events were scheduled in downtown Minneapolis on Saturday and Sunday--the Gophers football game beginning at 11 on Saturday morning, the final Twins games of the season at 6 p.m. on Saturday and 2:00 on Sunday, and a Vikings game at noon on Sunday. It would be hard to find a worse time to close down 35W. Governor Mark Dayton expressed concern about the closure. This is typical of Dayton:...

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35W Meltdown: Why Didn’t Dayton Steer Fans to His Bike Lanes and Trains This Weekend?

Gov. Mark Dayton hit the panic button this week.  He expressed "serious concerns" and apologized for MnDOT's untimely closure of 35W into downtown Minneapolis this weekend on game days.  The 35W meltdown offered Dayton the opportunity to urge Minnesotans to take to the bike lanes, walkways and light rail trains his administration has prioritized over highways.  But when the rubber hit the road this weekend, the governor let a good crisis go to waste.  Not a word about alternative modes of travel that MnDOT, the Met Council and urban planners pretend are just as important as freeways. Gov. Mark Dayton has...

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Read it and Grin: Minneapolis officials call for Environmental Review of SWLRT Crash Wall

Look on the bright side Minneapolis: the wall could be passed off as an expansion of the nearby Walker Art Museum’s Sculpture Garden. Think of the wall as a giant canvas. The Walker could provide spray paint to aspiring local artists to encourage self-expression, sponsoring an annual "We Love Our Wall" contest. Imagine how much the residents of Bryn Mawr will enjoy looking at their art. The Met Council could even save some bucks here; with all the graffiti, surely the train stations will not need any more “public art.”...

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