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Minnesota’s terrific at prioritizing transportation investments — with two big exceptions

A proposed design for a new Vikings stadium in Arden Hills.
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A proposed design for a new Vikings stadium in Arden Hills.

Minnesota is drawing national acclaim for its ability to carefully guide and prioritize its transportation investments and then measure the results. A study www.pewcenteronthestates.org/transportation released this week ranks our state at the top (along with Maryland, Missouri, Oregon and Virginia) for tracking the performance of its transportation system.

The Pew Center on the States and the Rockefeller Foundation conclude that in a time of scarce resources only a handful of states have the ability to hold themselves accountable for spending wisely on roads, bridges, buses and so on.

But there’s a very big caveat: Just because MnDOT is smart about measuring results doesn’t mean that smart decisions are always made. Indeed, politicians sometimes make dumb decisions that lead to inferior results, as two recent examples illustrate:

• U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann’s insistence that a big freeway-style bridge be erected over the St. Croix River south of Stillwater. Gov. Mark Dayton and Sen. Amy Klobuchar chimed in to support the $700 million project even though it defies the National Wild and Scenic Rivers Act and even though MnDOT was expecting to move forward with a smaller bridge that would have been compatible with its scenic surroundings. As it stands, the big new bridge will invite even more growth on the Wisconsin side of the river and exacerbate the costly and inefficient spreading out (and thinning out) of the metro area.

"Alternative E" for the Stillwater bridge is larger in scale and has greater environmental impact than the 3-architects proposal.
Courtesy of MnDOT
This plan for the Stillwater bridge is larger in scale and has greater environmental impact than an alternative proposal.

• The apparent selection of Arden Hills as the site for a new Vikings stadium (and ancillary development). It’s clear why the team wants the site: it can make more money there. It’s clear why fans want the site: they can get drunk in a massive parking lot before the game. But from a public policy standpoint it’s a terrible decision. State taxpayers would have to fork over $175 million to $240 million to improve roads just to accommodate the Vikings for 10 games a year. A far better choice from the public’s standpoint would have been the Metrodome site, where more than $2 billion worth of freeways, bridges and rail lines have already been provided.

In other words, MnDOT deserves the credit it is getting for designing an accountability system that measures its performance on safety, commerce, access, mobility, environmental stewardship and maintenance. Commissioner Tom Sorel deserves thanks for restoring professionalism and pride to the agency. But politicians and special interests can easily override MnDOT’s best intentions. Just because performance can be measured doesn’t mean that the performance itself will be top-notch.

Cheers and jeers
• Cheers (sort of) to Minneapolis for ramping up its street repairs this summer. Repairs are badly needed. But the city’s press release made it sound as if the $19 million effort was extraordinary when, as a staffer later conceded, it was the amount the city had planned to spend anyway.

• Cheers (but with a big question mark) to MnDOT for launching a research project on mileage-based fees. It’s all the rage in transportation circles to argue that because of hybrids and better-mileage cars, the gasoline tax will soon no longer produce enough revenue to build and repair roads. I’m not convinced that mileage-based fees are an improvement.Yes, they are an incentive to drive fewer miles and to shift travel habits to more efficient modes. But raising the gas tax would do the same thing, plus it would reward drivers for fuel efficiency and environmental sustainability. I know drivers hate to pay higher gas taxes. But they’ll hate mileage fees just as much. Maybe someone can explain to me why mileage fees are better?

• Jeers to U.S. Reps. Colin Peterson and Tim Walz for swallowing the “drill baby drill” rhetoric of the oil companies. Despite record profits, big oil wants more environmental concessions on drilling for oil offshore. We are like the fat man who, instead of going on a diet and heading to the gym, wants easier access to junk food. We won’t solve our energy problems (and related foreign policy problems) until we begin to treat oil dependency as an addiction.

In metrospect: Stories you may have missed
• The missing men: NYT columnist David Brooks wonders why 20 percent of American men in their prime working years aren’t working. Too many men lack the emotional and professional skills needed in today’s market, he writes. And the economy isn’t offering the low-skill, high-pay jobs once offered. What’s needed is more emphasis on community colleges, apprenticeships and wage supplements, he says, adding: “If this were a smart country we’d be having a debate about how to shift money from programs that provide comfort and toward programs that spark reinvigoration.”
 
As one of the missing 20 percent (the internet took away 80 percent of my dollar value as a journalist), I’d like to add technology to the list factors in the unemployment and underemployment trends. The changing nature of work has left many people, whether men or women, skilled or unskilled, on the uncomfortable ledge between job and no-job.

• The trouble with rating a city’s livability: Is it also lovable? Is it achievable? This piece in the Financial Times questions the ever-popular livability lists. Every rating service seems to love Vancouver, for example. Certainly it’s beautiful. But isn’t it also boring and unaffordable? Beautiful cities are overrated, the story suggests. “They cannot accommodate the kind of change and churn that keep cities alive. In London, New York and Berlin, it is their very ugliness which keeps them flexible.”

• Jane Jacobs: Misunderstood 50 years later? Toronto Globe and Mail columnist Stephen Wickens recalls the great urbanist thinker five years after her death and a half-century after the publication of “The Death and Life of Great American Cities.” Among those he interviews is Harvard economist Edward Glaeser. Her central idea, Glaeser recounts, is that cities are not buildings or infrastructure but “what real people make of them.”

Comments (19)

  1. Submitted by Mike Wilhelmi on 05/13/2011 - 09:42 am.

    Steve, your claim that “MnDOT was ready to move forward with a smaller bridge” is factually inaccurate.

    MnDOT has always supported the bridge plan adopted by the Stakeholder group — 27 people who met for 3 years to hammer out a compromise bridge plan. The plan builds a four-lane bridge, while protecting the environment and preserving historic sites.

    The drawing that MinnPost includes in the story is not the community plan. It’s the monstrous bridge that the Sierra Club and others want to shoehorn into the downtown Stillwater historic district. It was thoroughly rejected by historic preservation interests, environmental protection regulators and transportation planners. It’s actually worse for the environment than the community bridge plan. Why are you including it here?

    Bachmann, Klobuchar and Dayton support the community plan, and that is the plan that would go forward under Bachmann’s bill.

    MinnPost is an excellent source for news. I read it daily. But Berg’s continuing misstatement of basic facts is embarrassing.

  2. Submitted by jody rooney on 05/13/2011 - 10:14 am.

    Steve your whole article smacks of an urban bias that is at best unattractive. It’s clear you like big cities warts and all, but not everyone does. Nor are all parts of all cities the bastion of creative energy. What you may be calling energy may be tension and tension creates activity but not necessarily thought.

    Stop trying to cram your lifestyle choice down peoples throats and call it “better for the environment” is neither good journalism, good environmentalism, good social policy, nor economically rational.

  3. Submitted by Charles Holtman on 05/13/2011 - 10:32 am.

    Steve: Why do you perpetuate a frame by saying that “State taxpayers would have to fork over $175 to $240 million” for road improvements for an Arden Hills stadium? The proportion of that cost due to the stadium (and any attendant development) is a cost of the stadium and should be negotiated as such. Let us not give legitimacy to the assumption that this should just be a gift of the taxpayers to Mr Wilf, outside the boundaries of an overall cost allocation.

  4. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 05/13/2011 - 10:32 am.

    Good piece, Steve. Accurate measuring of results is great, but not more important than the decisions that lead to those results.

    Spreading out, and more thinly, metro population and jobs is mistaken public policy in an era of contradiction – the computer and the web can, and often do, make work much more efficient, but the meteoric rise in fossil fuel prices makes production and distribution of the results of that work increasingly costly. The proposed Stillwater “Freeway” bridge does nothing to make the Twin Cities metro more efficient. It will also kill off whatever economy downtown Stillwater has been able to maintain.

    If everything falls into place and the Vikings do, indeed, end up in Arden Hills, it will be exactly as you’ve described – a terrible public policy decision. MNDot may be able to measure the results to the nth degree, but that won’t make the decision a better one. Ignoring the infrastructure and transportation network already in place – and, I might add, at least partly located where it is because the Vikings were in the Metrodome – to construct, at huge public cost, a new stadium with hundreds of acres of surface parking, and the road and infrastructure necessary to make it function, is plain stupid. As a relative newbie to the area, the Arden Hills site made no sense to me at all until I read that Mr. Wilf’s day job is that of a real estate developer. Then it came into focus.

    I met dozens of real estate developers over the course of my years as a planning commissioner in Colorado. Only one of them had an active and functioning conscience. From Wilf’s standpoint, he gets a new stadium at a huge discount, plus the opportunity to develop (for a fat fee) hundreds of acres, and best of all, the same people who buy tickets to the gladiatorial events…um… football games will not only pay for the tickets, they’ll pay for the roads to the stadium, and the real estate development, and so on and so forth. Win-win for Wilf, lose-lose for Minneapolis and Minnesota taxpayers. St. Paul could end up with the highest sales tax in the state, and have virtually no say in the matter.

    As for cheers and jeers…

    The city doesn’t have nearly enough money to maintain its road network properly. “Ramping up” from completely inadequate to inadequate only constitutes progress in the current hostile-to-urban-areas state political environment.

    If revenue for roads is the goal, I’m in agreement that higher fuel taxes – of course they’ll be unpopular. So is getting a cavity fixed. – seem at least as effective a means of doing so as VMT (vehicle miles traveled) fees. As a driver, I’m not going to be enthused about higher costs, regardless of which fee or tax it is that’s driving the increase, but also as a driver, the need for increased road maintenance revenue is obvious and ongoing.

    “Drill baby, drill” is as lunatic as moving the Vikings to Arden Hills. Oil is a fungible commodity, and even if a huge oil field were discovered somewhere offshore, the oil will go to whoever is willing to pay the highest price for it. That could just as easily be China or India as the United States. We’ll have depleted an irreplaceable resource, damaged our environment, and there might be no lowering of gas prices at all. The benefit will mostly accrue to oil company investors and executives.

    The “missing men” provide a good illustration of the folly of following business philosophy too closely. Businesses get involved in education, not because they want educated citizens as workers, but because they want the public to provide them with workers who are already trained – at public expense. Many jobs have simply disappeared recently, no matter how highly trained their workers might have been. Republican rhetoric frequently characterizes the unemployed as shiftless and lazy, but that description is even further off the mark in recent times than is typically the case because, as Steve has said, the very nature of work and the working environment is in flux.

    I’m not sure ugliness trumps beauty in terms of making a city “livable.” Human scale seems more important to me.

    I read Jane Jacobs late in life, certainly far later than most students of urban planning. The primary message I got – as an active citizen, but not a professional planner – from “The Death and Life of Great American Cities” was / is the incredible value and importance of diversity. Housing, architecture, ethnicity, economy – all those and many more work far more to our advantage as taxpayers and citizens when they’re diverse. Among my pet peeves is our continued addiction – just as in the case of oil – to the same Euclidian zoning concepts that have produced ugly housing developments and dysfunctional cities all over the country for more than half a century.

  5. Submitted by Kevin Wynn on 05/13/2011 - 11:20 am.

    Steve asked: Cheers (but with a big question mark) to MnDOT for launching a research project on mileage-based fees. ……Maybe someone can explain to me why mileage fees are better?

    To me the answer would be: because gas taxes or highway fees are (supposed to be) used for maintenance and construction of the road system. An all-electric Nissan Leaf will weigh as much and put the same wear and tear on the road as small Toyota gas vehicle will. Alternatively, The Nissan Leaf will put 100 times the wear on the road that a motorcycle/scooter will. And should the day come when we have all-electric transport trucks, the wear on the road is the main factor to measure, not how fuel efficient the vehicle is.

    It costs the same amount to fix a pothole, regardless of the energy source powering the vehicles that made it.

    Maybe annual registration fees should reflect vehicle size and weight and then somehow factored for miles driven (odo readings or something) to better address the issue.

  6. Submitted by Jeff Klein on 05/13/2011 - 12:38 pm.

    @2: I don’t even know what “urban bias” means in this context. If Steve favors urban development, it has little to do with “like” or “not like” and everything to do with the fact that there’s simply no way we can continue to develop suburbs indefinitely. It’s based on a model where oil is more or less free, and that’s not our future. So when we make plans like sending everyone out to Arden Hills to watch a football game when there’s already a site that can be access by existing public transportation, it’s not a “bias” to point out that that’s an absurd decision.

  7. Submitted by Gary Kriesel on 05/13/2011 - 03:11 pm.

    It’s disappointing that Steve Berg and MinnPost continue to view the proposed St. Croix River Crossing, a community-created vision, as a dumb idea.  It’s even more ironic coming from a news outlet that positions itself as being thoughtful. 
     
    The St. Croix River Crossing is not Representative Michele Bachmann’s bridge; it’s the community’s bridge.  Area residents have been trying to find a solution to the 1931 Lift Bridge’s daily congestion nightmare since the 1960s, long before Representative Bachmann was first elected to Congress in 2006.  The community’s project is also supported by Senator Amy Klobuchar and Governor Mark Dayton, and has been endorsed by the Star Tribune editorial board.
     
    In June 2003, a group of 27 stakeholders came together to create a plan that balanced the region’s environmental, traffic safety, economic development, river use, and historic preservation needs.  The stakeholders represented the community, state and federal regulatory agencies, environmental organizations, historic preservation interests, economic development interests, and local governments from both sides of the river. 
     
    For three years, they studied dozens of plans, including the plan referenced by Steve.  This exhaustive community process and in-depth professional analysis of the plans revealed serious and disqualifying flaws in all other options, which led MnDOT and the community to advance the plan that is currently proposed.
     
    The four-lane St. Croix River Crossing protects historic sites, decreases pollution and congestion in downtown Stillwater, reduces water pollution in the St. Croix River, and enhances the public’s access to the river.
     
    The “Alternative D” plan repeatedly shown by Mr. Berg and a bevy of environmental organizations was rejected by the group and by the National Park Service because it would have a significantly greater impact on wetlands and bluffs on both sides of the river.  In order to build it, hundreds of thousands of cubic yards of earth would have to be removed from the river bluffs in Minnesota andWisconsin.
     
    “Alternative D” would require the destruction of public parks and severely impact the downtown Stillwater historic district.  This plan offered by the Sierra Club and others is a non-starter.  It is bad for the environment and bad for historic downtown Stillwater.
     
    Steve is concerned about how the proposed bridge might interrupt scenic views of the St. Croix River Valley, but the bridge he favors was rejected for that very reason.  “Alternative D” would ruin the scenic views of the river enjoyed by the many thousands of families who visit the downtown Stillwater riverfront park each year as well as perpetuating the traffic gridlock and air pollution that we are trying to fix.  People who live in the area care deeply about the St. Croix River Valleyand would not choose a plan that would disrupt its scenic views or harm the river’s protected ecosystem. 
     
    At the request of environmental groups, the stakeholders chose a “signature” bridge design, and it is beautiful.  It’s not a freeway bridge.  It’s a modified cable stay bridge that we believe in time will become as iconic as the LiftBridge.  There is only one other bridge of this design in the United States.
     
    Steve selectively forgets to include the fact that Pierce and St. Croix counties are part of the Twin Cities Metropolitan area.  This bridge is a project within a major metropolitan area that will benefit an entire region.
     
    People who live in Wisconsin are not foreigners.  They are the teachers, doctors, manufacturing workers, prison guards, and public servants who work and shop in Minnesota.  They pay Minnesota income taxes on their wages and pay Minnesota sales taxes on their purchases.  Stopping the bridge because Wisconsinites would benefit does not make any sense.  Ignoring the fact that part of our metro area includes Wisconsin is at best disingenuous.
     
    There will not be a more cost-effective time to build a new bridge than now.  The community has already voted on the best bridge for the area.  Bringing up plans that have already been reviewed and rejected is beyond “dumb.” Delaying the project further will cost the state more and ignores the vision of a community Steve might not like but deserves to be respected.
     
    It’s time to build the bridge the community decided was best for the St. Croix River Valley and the entire Twin Cities metropolitan area.
     

  8. Submitted by Stan Hooper on 05/13/2011 - 04:40 pm.

    I’m referencing just the request for someone to suggest a reason to use a mileage tax instead of a gas tax. I understood that the reason for the tax is to improve roads in a variety of ways. I did not believe that the founders of the statute for gas tax was strictly to encourage reduction in driving so that less gas would be used. At any rate, it seems that in the very long run, if we steadily switch over to electric and other alternate ways of operating our automobiles, we’ll use less gas that way, and then there won’t be enough revenue to improve roads, yet there will continue to be vehicles using those roads. Mileage tax seems to be able to circumvent the revenue problem.

  9. Submitted by David Peterson on 05/13/2011 - 05:10 pm.

    @Gary Kriesel: Read the article, sir. Steve hardly mentions the environmental impact on the river valley itself. However, he is concerned with the developmental and social impact.

    The problem comes in the fact that we would spend $700m on a bridge that primarily benefits commuters in a rural, exurban type environment. This bridge is out of line with the scale of traffic the area needs, and would encourage more sprawling development in Wisconsin.

    I really enjoyed your anecdote though, clearly you have spent some time lobbying for this bridge. In fact, Google reveals that you are on the board of commissioners for Washington County, so you are directly linked to this project. I certainly hope that anecdotal evidence isn’t being used to drive this decision.

    Here are some facts for you: The current bridge carries 18,000 cars/day. Some other new bridge projects fall into that same usage range in the metro. The Hastings Bridge, budget: $120m. The Lowry Bridge, budget $80m. I know those aren’t apples to apples comparisons, but budget of this scale is out of line with peer projects. 9.1 miles: The distance from Houton, WI to MN via I-94 (Source: Wikipedia, Google Maps). The only fact I could find in your statement was the estimated cubic yards of dirt being moved for a bridge. An interesting statement, but certainly a large amount of soil is being moved for the other bridge.

    No one will argue that traffic in Stillwater is bad, but is it impacting the community to the tune of $700 million? Come up with something for about 30-40% of the that cost then it may be best for the “entire Twin Cities metropolitan area”.

  10. Submitted by Evan Roberts on 05/14/2011 - 11:17 am.

    A mileage based fee, depending on the device used, has the potential to implement congestion charging on freeways, and perhaps other streets.

    Proper pricing of road access would go a long way to making the Twin Cities more livable.

    But the American love of a socialist road system might be a bit strong to get that going.

  11. Submitted by jody rooney on 05/14/2011 - 03:59 pm.

    Mr. Peterson the cost of the bridge is the cost of the bridge. You can not compare sites that require different designs and have different subsurface issues. To try to do so is just plain dumb. I think people should drive over bridges that are safe and that should be left to engineers. We have seen what short sighting design and maintenance have done when you try to get by cheaply.

    I am not sure that you have driven around much in Wisconsin but their north south road system leaves a lot to be desired. Similar to the Minnesota’s east west system outside of the metro area. Putting those 18,000 cars on the local roads won’t work very well. Those extra miles added to commutes are not exactly environmentally friendly either.

    The urban sprawl argument is over rated. People move to where they can purse the lifestyle they want for their family. Should we force people to live where they don’t want to. Oh wait we do that by economically shutting them out of areas, but that’s a different issues.

  12. Submitted by David Peterson on 05/15/2011 - 03:14 pm.

    @Jody Rooney: The cost of the bridge can be lowered or raised depending upon the scope of the project. More length, and lanes means more materials, more engineering, and more cost. Bluff to bluff design is longer and wider, therefore it will cost more than a smaller shorter bridge.

    I agree that adding miles to commutes isn’t environmentally friendly. Highway 35/CR 64 is in great shape between Sommerset and Houlton. In fact, it is actually a four lane freeway for a large portion, but the quality does rapidly decline near Hudson. That is a fair point, I hadn’t considered that impact. I think building a larger bridge that could handle more traffic would have just as significant of an impact on that infrastructure though.

    I feel that the sprawl argument isn’t overrated. People can choose to live however they want, but the government does not have to provide an avenue to encourage living further and further away. Projects like these will continue the doughnut trend that we are starting to see impact Minneapolis and Saint Paul. I don’t know if you pay attention to other metro areas, but you are not in great company when your core is poor and declining in population. These cities include St Louis, Detroit, Buffalo, Cleveland, not much of an aspirational group of peers.

    $700m is just too much for 18,000 cars/day. If the Washington county community can’t find a design that can be built for less, shut down the bridge to auto traffic and let Wisconsin pay to improve Highway 35 down to Interstate 94. That way, those who benefit most, pay the most and the St Croix valley is not impacted.

  13. Submitted by William Pappas on 05/15/2011 - 10:16 pm.

    Bachmann’s advocacy for the mega bridge over the St. Croix is odd in that it has the smell of pork and earmark all over it. Her reputation as a tight conservative cost cutter has to take a beating if this gargantuan, unnecessarily huge, expensive project with no significant economic impact moves forward. I expect Bachmann to discard effective environmental regulation at the drop of a hat but I’m surprised that she essentially trades in her entire reputation as a gaurdian of the public’s money just to see this “money is no object” bridge become a reality.

  14. Submitted by William Pappas on 05/15/2011 - 10:25 pm.

    Mike Wilhelmi, what is embarrasing is that otherwise intelligent people are willing to spend 700 million dollars on this crossing. No that lower and slower crossing is not shoe horned. And yes the 350 million needed to upgrade HW 36 through Stillwater to 70 MPH non stop status is another monstrous, expensive mistake. Mike, this plan is the ultimate budget buster. No, Mike, MNDOT never considered any other crossing. I went to those meetings and the smaller crossings were rejected out of hand. There is no threat to historic preservation if the bridge is crossing close to the old bridge, just south of it. In fact the biggest threat to historic preservation and the preservation of the Valley’s scenic and wild nature is the monster bridge you feel the stakeholder’s group supported. The entire process was a complete sham as MNDOT only considered their pet mega bridge.

  15. Submitted by William Pappas on 05/15/2011 - 10:48 pm.

    Mr. Kriesel, you have no right to talk cost effectiveness in relation to the timing of this bridge. That statement is preposterous. This bridge will cost over 700 million dollars. In no possible way can that ever be considered cost effective. That is nearly 3 times more expensive than any river crossing in Minnesota history. For nearly a billion dollars we should expect a major economic pay back for the bridge. This area simply doesn’t have the traffic and population to support that kind of cost when a smaller and less expensive bridge would accomplish the same thing. How can you argue that rebuilding HW 36 and creating a lasting traffic jam for Stillwater residents in that area (while Wisconsin commuters zoom right past to their new sprawling economy on the other side of the river, even taking away business from Stillwater) is cost effective? That is the most rediculous part of this project, the fact that the mega bridge makes no sense unless you rebuild HW 36 into a mega freeway. Another thing you fail to understand is that this bridge will redirect the development around Stillwater and across the river to a sprawling, auto centric out dated suburban expansion that is too expensive for cities and counties to fund in this revenue challenged era. In short, this bridge is no longer affordable in many more ways than the simple 700 million dollar price tag. For some reason you also don’t seem to get that the ST. Croix Valley around Stillwater is fortunately protected by the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act which you will weaken with the passage of Bachmann’s bill. The Act is the principal reason our town is as beautiful and unspoiled as it is. Your bridge will increase development pressure on the Wisconsin side and Bachmann’s bill will give argument to those that would weaken protection on all other protected American rivers. Can you live with that? Can your South Hill neighbors live with the unceasing noise pollution such a mega bridge will bring to their neighborhood? Will the light that will brighten our night sky make Stillwater seem more historic, or do you think it might make this town just seem like another suburb. Mr. Kriesel, the plan those stakeholders approved is an environmental catastrophe. It is the farthest thing from cost effective I have ever witnessed in Minnesota. Have you lost your bearings on how obscene that 700 million dollar price tag is? Let’s just build the most expensive bridge in Minnesota’s history (say one for 350 million) and still have enough left over to fund a Viking’s stadium for the state. Or provide Minnesota’s portion of LRT financing. That’s how rediculous this has become.

  16. Submitted by William Pappas on 05/15/2011 - 10:51 pm.

    Jody, are you saying we should subsidize living in Wisconsin to the tune of 700 million? That’s not people living where they want. That’s subsidizing people living where they shouldn’t be able to afford it. This cost is absurd in relation to the crossing problem and the economic impact such a huge investment will create.

  17. Submitted by William Pappas on 05/15/2011 - 10:59 pm.

    Gees, Dave Peterson, such common sense talk is rear around here. There are ten major reasons not to build this bridge but the plain fact is that 700 million is incomprehensably too much. Mr. Kriesel, a good conservative, should understand that but for some reason he has a different mind set for the bridge near his home town, a kind of money is no object perspective.

  18. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 05/16/2011 - 01:33 pm.

    Stories we’ve missed? Why are so many men not working? As usual Brooks produces a completely irrelevant observation. The reason 20% of American men in their “prime” are not working is there are no jobs…. duh. The job vacancy rate in Minnesota in the last quarter of 2010 was 1.4 – 5.8. In other words there is one job for every five people looking for work. 4 out of 5 men looking for work aren’t going to find it because there is no job no matter how talented or qualified they are. Brooks has never been big on reality, better to blame the hoi polloi for their circumstances than contemplate why market economies don’t produce jobs despite record profits.

  19. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 05/16/2011 - 01:39 pm.

    That bridge is going to be an eyesore by the way. And I agree with Berg, it’s bad policy to accommodate people who’ve chosen to live in a different state 40 miles from where they work. It’s poor planning, and a misuse of resources. You people who hate cities, fine. Get a job closer to home… oh wait…

    Seems to me it would cheaper to close the bridge to everything but foot and bike traffic. That would solve the traffic problem wouldn’t it?

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