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$200 Million More for Roads and Bridges Without Raising Gas Tax

What if we could have better roads and bridges without increasing the gas tax?  That's the last thing DFL Gov. Tim Walz wants to see, after attempting to raise the gas tax on Minnesotans by 70 percent this year. Yet that's exactly what's happened, thanks to a creative bipartisan solution worked out before Walz took office. The Minnesota Chamber of Commerce, one of the fiercest opponents of the gas tax hike, touted the new funding stream already flowing to our roadways without Walz's 20 cent a gallon increase in a column by chamber president Doug Loon in the West Central Tribune. Minnesotans today...

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Commuters Upset Over Loss of Extra Lane on Freeway

Why does it seem to take a tragedy or natural disaster for MnDOT to come around and add more traffic lanes in the Twin Cities freeways? The I-35W bridge collapse forced MnDOT to increase capacity by squeezing more lanes into existing space by restriping the roads, using shoulders and other tricks. This spring flooding on the Minnesota River led the state agency to get creative again for the sake of commuters on Highway 169 and the Bloomington Ferry Bridge. MnDOT added a lane on the existing roadway to ease congestion for the nearly 100,000 daily commuters. But just when motorists began to...

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2018 Traffic Congestion Worst on Record Under Failed MnDOT Plan

If you drive the Twin Cities freeways, you don't need to read MnDOT's annual report to know traffic congestion gets worse every year. But for the record, 2018 ranks as the worst on record for metro drivers in the more than 25 years of keeping track, according to the Star Tribune. Drivers were caught in congestion 25% of the time during the morning and afternoon commutes in 2018, according to the Minnesota Department of Transportation. That’s the highest level of congestion since the state began its annual highway traffic surveys in 1993. And things are not likely to improve, said Brian Kary,...

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MN Amtrak Ridership Declines Again in 2018

Amtrak continues to lose passengers in Minnesota, even as DFL Governor Tim Walz, MnDOT and the national rail service continue to pursue a partnership to initiate two new Amtrak-operated but heavily state-subsidized routes from the Twin Cities to Duluth and Chicago. RELATED: Are Minnesotans Being Taken for a Ride by Amtrak? Ridership on the only Amtrak line in Minnesota, the Empire Builder from Chicago to Seattle, has waned nearly 30 percent in recent years. The latest numbers compiled by the Rail Passengers Association indicate the Empire Builder lost another 10,000 riders in 2018, dropping to a total of 126,700 compared to 177,600...

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Gov. Walz Fails to Stay the Execution of Kenilworth Trail until SWLRT is funded

The Met Council has been saying for years that it is ready to apply for a federal grant. Yet, here we are in 2019, during the Trump administration, without an invitation to apply for $929 million federal funds and the State has pulled support, leaving Hennepin County as the source of funds. Local officials are nervous. And the clear-cutting of trees has begun. ...

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No Funding for Proposed Duluth Train This Year

Minnesota taxpayers dodged another bullet with the collapse of a bonding bill at the state legislature this session.  Among the pet projects thankfully left in limbo? The so-called Northern Lights Express (NLX), a more than half a billion dollar boondoggle that was tracked by the Duluth News Tribune. Breakthrough funding for the proposed $550-million passenger rail line between the Twin Ports and Minneapolis will have to wait for at least another year after the Minnesota Legislature last week failed to address the project. Funding for the Northern Lights Express passenger rail line ultimately landed in a proposed off-year bonding bill. The bill...

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Are Minnesota Taxpayers Being Taken for a Ride by Amtrak?

Most Minnesotans have likely never heard of the proposed $550 million Northern Lights Express (NLX) passenger rail line from the Twin Cities to Duluth-Superior. Yet MnDOT has been quietly laying the groundwork for the line for years with a series of engineering and environmental studies. Meantime, Gov. Walz has prioritized the project, requesting $15 million from the legislature to keep NLX on track. If NLX becomes a reality, MnDOT has made it clear that Amtrak would operate the 152-mile line on behalf of the state. In recent weeks Amtrak officials have surfaced in meetings with elected officials in Duluth-Superior and the...

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Stop Clear-Cutting of Trees for SWLRT: Residents Petition Gov. Walz

Something is up. The Met Council is spending $200,000 in taxpayer dollars on lobbyists to secure the federal funding. Why spend bucks on lobbyists if you are certain of funding? Maybe I was wrong to write that the federal funding train has left the station. I am happy to be wrong about that. Let's cheer these petitioning residents on. ...

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