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Twin Cities Light Rail Projects May Be Dead

The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) has released its Annual Report on Funding Recommendations for the Fiscal Year 2019. The report describes the capital investment grants (CIG) program that states can apply to for federal matching funds. The FTA is not recommending funding for any projects in Minnesota. The projects that have applied for federal funds are Southwest LRT, Bottineau LRT, the Metro Orange Line bus rapid transit along 35W, and the Metro Gold Line bus rapid transit in St. Paul. The FTA is limiting funding to “projects with existing full funding grant agreements. For the remaining projects in the CIG program, FTA...

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Reading the Federal Tea Leaves: No Funds for Light Rail Expansion?

According to the Wall Street Journal yesterday, Trump wants to "save more than $1.4 billion by eliminating the Federal Transit Administration’s New Start's program, though it would permit projects that already have signed agreements to be funded through those grants to proceed." This has been the President’s position since he came into office. Neither of the Met Council's New Start’s projects, Southwest or Bottineau LRT, have signed agreements with the FTA. ...

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Light Rail Expansion Comes to Screeching Halt: BNSF Says No To Met Council

The Met Council got some very bad news. A freight line, BNSF, told the Met Council that it did not want to co-locate its freight line with the proposed 13-mile light rail expansion called Bottineau. And while the Met Council put a happy face on this bad news, and elected officials who want the LRT expansion suggested that BNSF was just engaged in hard-knuckle negotiations, it does not sound like BNSF is still at the negotiating table. You be the judge. ...

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Just Say No: Increase in Gas Tax Would Fuel More Congestion, Reward Bad Policy

The Center joined a national coalition of policy organizations in the letter below which will be sent to Congress next week. Given the terrible congestion in the metro area, and the pot holes in our roads, some might argue that raising the gas tax is a good idea. The problem is the policies that gave us terrible congestion would not change with more gas tax money; more gas tax money would just “fuel” those bad policies. ...

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Met Council: If it is such a great regional model, why is it the only one after 50 years?

Mondale has thrown down the legislative gauntlet, again. While annoying and not correct that the Council is acting under actual authority, he is correct that the legislature created the creature that is the Council and the legislature must take it out, breaking it up into its constituent parts and spinning them off where they can do more good and no harm. Will the 2018 Legislature take him up the dare? ...

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Bike Lane Backlash Spreads to Businesses in Duluth

The campaign to drive more cars off our streets by converting vehicle lanes to bike ways has taken off in Duluth. A community group has decided the parking on one side of a mile and a half strip of road lined with businesses should be replaced by a bike lane this summer, according to the Duluth paper. The bike lane, proposed by Places for People — a Zeitgeist Arts "campaign in the Hillside to engage residents and entities around better street design that prioritizes people, not just motor vehicles" — would, if approved, stretch 1.5 miles along East Ninth and Eighth...

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MN Legislators Pull the Plug on “High Speed” Rail Study

Wasteful new passenger rail projects have hit a wall under the Trump administration. But a temporary timeout from power in Washington never stops the elites at the Met Council and MnDOT from keeping pipe dreams like Southwest Light Rail Transit, the not-so-high-speed Northern Lights Express to Duluth and not-so high speed rail line to Milwaukee on the side track with just enough federal funding for obscure studies to keep hope alive. Until now. Frivolous taxpayer funding to keep the Milwaukee to Twin Cities line on life support, despite the adamant opposition of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, just got shelved, the Star...

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American Experiment Scores Two of 2017’s Top Ten Op-Eds

The Star Tribune has released its list of the most-read op-eds of 2017, and the Center had two in the top ten. Katherine Kersten's blockbuster piece on political indoctrination in the Edina public schools was number two, and my column on traffic congestion in the Twin Cities was number nine. 1. “No sympathy here for that airline passenger,” by Bob Gust, a lawyer living in Bloomington. While the world rages against United Airlines, I am outraged by the selfishness of the passenger removed from a plane in the much-discussed incident — and by the lack of critical thinking among everyone else. 2. “Racial...

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A Horrible Way to Be Proven Right

The fatal derailment of the debut trip of Amtrak's new Seattle to Portland "high-speed" route this week prompted national transit expert and critic Randal O'Toole to post the following commentary on his website. O'Toole has closely tracked the ill-fated line's development from his home in rural Oregon.  O'Toole authored the seminal Center of the American Experiment report "Twin Cities Traffic Congestion: It's No Accident." Yesterday was not a proud day for the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT). The agency spent close to $800 million of federal funds on a so-called high-speed rail project between Seattle and Portland–only “so-called” because top speeds would...

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