Community Voices features opinion pieces from a wide variety of authors and perspectives. (Submission Guidelines)

Hennepin Commissioner candidate: demand Southwest LRT alternatives

I filed for the Hennepin County 3rd District Commissioner special election to organize DEMAND from We the People for alternatives to the disastrous Southwest Light Rail plan.

I’d like to think that all elected public servants are temp workers … but this special election is the ultimate “elected temp job” — it ends in January 2015. Beyond the transit issue, let me just say: I’ll “do my homework” as needed regarding County Board issues, and will try not to do anything stupid.

Last Monday, a Republican Convention of Hennepin County 3rd District Delegates endorsed me. I am the only convention-endorsed major party candidate on Tuesday’s primary ballot. 

Unfortunately, while MinnPost has profiled four unendorsed DFLers, my candidacy has been mostly brushed off and disregarded. I inquired as to why I wasn’t being profiled — here’s News Editor David Brauer’s e-mail reply:

“Our policy is to report on candidates who have some reasonable chance to influence the outcome of an election. In general, we do not report on frequent filers whose track record has been to capture minimal votes.”

“You are more than welcome to submit a Community Voices for consideration …”

So… ok… here it is. By the way… it’s true I don’t “capture” votes – but I did receive about 17,000 votes in the 2012 Republican U.S. Senate primary – spending under $1,000. Free people vote too! Many Republicans have been listening… and agreeing. But I’ve also recently presented my plans one-on-one to MNDOT Commissioner Charlie Zelle, [state] House Ways and Means Chair Lyndon Carlson, Senate Transportation Chair Scott Dibble, Mayor Betsy Hodges, and to three Minneapolis Council members, including Cam Gordon. 

My Southwest Light Rail Alternative plan is laid out in a Star Tribune counterpoint — it’s on my website, with lots of additional detail, at

Here’s the guts: let’s use Metro Mobility-size buses, and lots of them, to provide far more robust service for the corridor, with Five-Minute Service frequency. Use existing infrastructure whenever possible — specifically use Shady Oak Road to serve the Golden Triangle area, instead of bulldozing a light-rail line through it. Grade, pave and share with bikes the right of way from Shady Oak to Calhoun, then share the Greenway — to Uptown Transit Station, Lyndale, and a new Nicollet/35W/Lake/Greenway Transit Station. From there, the smaller buses will use inner ramps to go up to existing MnPASS lanes, then back and forth to downtown.

Robert "Again" Carney
MinnPost file photo by Bill Kelley
Robert “Again” Carney

Result: a dedicated, congestion-free right of way from Shady Oak to Downtown. A trip from Uptown Transit Station to the downtown I-35W ramp will take about 6 minutes — the route then loops through the heart of downtown.

There’s more — my plan includes Five-Minute Service along the entire Greenway — from Uptown to Hiawatha, with elevators linking to all existing north/south bus routes. There will also be Five-Minute Service frequency on Broadway, linking to all north and northeast bus routes, with another shuttle linking to Uptown. The operating cost for my plan is comparable to the light rail plan.

That’s “Plan A”; my website also has “Plan B”: re-route light rail to the Uptown Transit Station, then tunnel under Hennepin — surfacing near Dunwoody. 

Of course, because my “Plan A” and “Plan B” routes go thru Uptown, we can and will leave Kenilworth alone… as it is… with no freight re-routing.

To see just how disastrously flawed the Metropolitan Council process has been, recall that during the “Locally Preferred Alternative” process, we were told Uptown options were unrealistically expensive because they would require tunneling. The Eden Prairie re-route added about $300 million to the cost. Now we’re talking tunnels under a bike path. That’s crazy! If the current plan had been presented initially, it would never have been accepted as a “Locally Preferred Alternative.” 

My “Transit Revolution” approach is designed to produce a fast and radical improvement in Transit options for the Twin Cities. With lots of small buses, and Five-Minute Service frequency, we can and should make transit an alternative that large numbers of people will freely choose. That’s my freedom-loving, congestion-ending vision. 

I have an MBA from Carlson (top 10 percent) and a core in Physics from Macalester. Last year, I wrote a 150 page e-book laying out my Minneapolis Transit Revolution plan — download it at I am confident that over time you’ll hear more reporting on this at MinnPost, and through the mainstream media.

If you’re in my district, I’m asking for your vote for County Commissioner. We the People can and should DEMAND a fresh look at all our options for the Southwest Transit corridor. Automated driving is coming — when it’s here, a fine mesh of small vehicles and frequent service will be easier and better to convert than rail.

Questions … concerns … ideas? Call or text me, my cell phone is: 612-812-4867.

Robert “Again” Carney is a candidate for Hennepin County Commissioner, 3rd district, which covers downtown and southwest Minneapolis and St. Louis Park. The primary election is Tuesday, April 29.


If you’re interested in joining the discussion, add your voice to the Comment section below — or consider writing a letter or a longer-form Community Voices commentary. (For more information about Community Voices, email Susan Albright at

You can also learn about all our free newsletter options.

Comments (5)

  1. Submitted by Todd Hintz on 04/25/2014 - 12:02 pm.


    Thanks for your letter, Mr. Carney. Now I know who not to vote for. The SW LRT has been pretty much beaten to death at this point and now, at the 11th hour, you suddenly pop in with a “fresh new look” at the situation. I’m sorry, but your plan is about as fresh and ingenious as three day old fish left out in the July sun. Where were you ten years ago when they kicked off the planning phase for the line?

    And did you seriously say “freedom-loving”? What kind of ballyhoo is that? Are you implying that only people who agree with you and follow your plan are for freedom and the rest are against freedom? Your choice of words smacks of someone who is doing politics as usual and wants to paint the opposition as the Other who is to be feared.

    You would do much better if you cut the trite rhetoric and instead came to MinnPost with your hat in hand to have an adult conversation. People are looking for solutions to our problems, not table pounders.

  2. Submitted by Britter Ritter on 04/25/2014 - 01:00 pm.

    Bridge the Gap

    Replacing the long-gone Cedar Lake Road bridge just west of France Avenue would once more allow direct travel from St. Louis Park and Minnetonka to Uptown and Downtown Minneapolis.

    • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 04/25/2014 - 04:25 pm.

      That long gone bridge..

      Actually belonged to the rail road, and was torn down by the railroad. Dude, it connected Cedar lake road to a quiet residential street that runs into France Ave. and a tangle town of parkways. If you want to get Uptown from Minnnetonka take Hwy 7. or 394 and get off on Dunwoody. How many roads into Uptown do you need?

  3. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 04/25/2014 - 04:30 pm.

    Busses are a “revolution”?

    Not a clue. By the way, these are the same people that always want to cut Metro Transit’s budget so I’d be careful about assuming this “alternative” transit plan something other than a smoke screen for budget cuts.

  4. Submitted by Dick Novack on 04/26/2014 - 09:25 am.

    “Endorsed” by my GOP CD-3 ?

    If this is the best my party has to offer, God help us.

    Nothing is accomplished UNLESS one actually wins an election – garnering the votes of the people. That means representing the wishes of the majority that elect. Carney and other fringe philosophers aren’t even close.

Leave a Reply