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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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Do We Really Want Amtrak Running Trains in MN? (Part 2)

The deadly crash of the Amtrak Cascades line passenger train south of Seattle this week shines the spotlight on the government agency's fatal ineptitude--again. Amtrak's new CEO Richard Anderson, well known to Minnesotans as former head of both Northwest and Delta Airlines,  confirmed safety technology that could have made a difference had yet not been installed, according to CNN. Amtrak's co-CEO apologized profusely for the high-speed train derailment that hurled passenger cars onto a freeway, killing three people and injuring 100. "It's not acceptable that we are involved in these kinds of accidents. We are terribly sorry to the people that are involved,"...

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Traffic Congestion From Bike Lanes Could Be An Emergency

  Minneapolis city officials' mania for bike lanes could be an emergency. That's the diagnosis by Dr. Geoffrey Emerson in the Star Tribune in the latest cry for help from drivers stuck in traffic on city streets with wide open, empty bike lanes near Abbott Northwestern and Children's Hospital. A downside to bicycle lanes is that they come at the expense of existing traffic lanes, thereby increasing congestion for vehicles. This is especially apparent on 26th Street and 28th Street in south Minneapolis, where traffic slowed to a crawl on Tuesday. These bike lanes were opened shortly before the nearby Franklin Avenue bridge...

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MnDOT’s Energy-Saver Lights Snarl Traffic in Storm

MnDOT's rush to go green just hit what could be more than a bump in the road. The Pioneer Press points out this week's ice and snow storm exposed an embarrassing downside to the widespread use of LED traffic control lights in cold weather states like Minnesota. Drivers found out the hard way that LEDs don't let off enough heat to melt ice and snow on traffic lights like conventional bulbs. That can turn the high tech lights into something of a roadway hazard in themselves. Energy-efficient traffic lights on Minnesota 36 in Oak Park Heights caused a major problem for eastbound drivers Tuesday morning...

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Bike Lanes Aren’t Cutting Edge, They Are a Failed Policy

The City of Minneapolis is busily cutting back on traffic capacity by adding dedicated bicycle lanes, even on heavily traveled thoroughfares like Washington Avenue. One gets the sense that bike lane advocates think they are forward-looking and even cutting edge, but nothing could be farther from the truth. Dedicated bicycle lanes are a hackneyed urban concept that has been tried, and has failed, in cities around the world. Consider this from Lawrence Solomon in the Financial Post: "Ban the bike! How cities made a huge mistake in promoting cycling." Today the bicycle is a mixed bag, usually with more negatives than positives....

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Listen to Kevin Terrell on KTLK: the latest on SWLRT and chances for Met Council Reform

Kevin Terrell, our Adjunct Fellow, appeared on Wednesday, November 29th with Justice and Drew on KTLK AM1130 to discuss the Met Council’s governance structure and needed reforms. Kevin has been working closely with Kim Crockett to educate lawmakers and the public on the folly of LRT for the metro, to make the case for reform of the Met Council. ...

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Key Legislators Make the Bipartisan Case for met Council Reform, Again

Distrust of the council arises from a governance structure that allows this unelected body to exercise power over 3.5 million metro residents with little to no accountability. The council, reporting only to the governor, now controls all federal and state resources for metro transportation, transit, subsidized housing, water treatment, parks and airports. ...

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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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