Lakes warming faster than oceans

Lake Superior

 Not that you’d know by sticking your foot in itJennifer Brooks of the Strib says: “Dozens of researchers pooled decades’ worth of data from hundreds of lakes and concluded that the world’s lakes are warming even more rapidly than the oceans or the atmosphere. The warmer waters threaten fish populations, ecosystems and fresh water supplies around the globe. Closer to home, University of Minnesota Duluth Professor Jay Austin says … that Superior, like the other Great Lakes, is growing ever warmer. ‘Lake Superior is one of the more rapidly warming lakes’ among the 235 lakes in the study, Austin said.”

But still two and a half hours? MPR’s Dan Kraker says, “Advocates of a proposed high-speed rail line between Duluth and Minneapolis say the cost to build the project has been cut nearly in half. Previous estimates to build the Northern Lights Express passenger rail service approached $1 billion. Now, the Minnesota Department of Transportation says it will cost between $500 million and $600 million. The savings would come by dropping the train’s top speed from 110 mph to 90 mph and by cutting the number of daily trains from eight to four … . MnDOT projects the line connecting Target Field in Minneapolis with the downtown Duluth depot would draw about 700,000 riders a year beginning in 2020. Total travel time would be two and a half hours, comparable with a car. Projected fares are expected to cost between $25 and $30.” 

Money … talking. The AP says, “A federal budget proposal brought good news Wednesday for Minnesota’s medical device companies by freezing for two years a tax on products like pacemakers and ventilators that they have long opposed. The package of tax cuts and spending cued up for final votes in Congress this week would suspend the 2.3 percent excise tax on those devices, ultrasound machines and more that took effect in 2013 as part of the funding mechanism for President Barack Obama’s health care law. … U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar said in a statement that she’d keep working with [GOP Rep. Eric] Paulsen and others to make the suspension permanent.” So then does Medtronic come back from Ireland?

More on those raids on chiropractic offices. Dan Browning in the Star Tribune says, “An insurance company’s lawsuit accusing a Twin Cities chiropractor of billing fraud may offer a hint of the allegations that prompted searches Tuesday by federal investigators on several area chiropractic offices. Exactly what prompted the searches remains a mystery, as the affidavits filed to obtain them remain under seal. But Healthcare Chiropractic Clinic — the defendant in the State Farm lawsuit — has offices in Minneapolis and Brooklyn Park that were among as many as nine raided by agents with the FBI and the Minnesota Department of Commerce Insurance Fraud unit.”

Frederick Melo of the Pioneer Press says, “The St. Paul City Council voted 6-1 on Wednesday to support a resolution condemning Donald Trump’s rhetoric about Muslims and reaffirming that the city is open and welcoming to immigrants and refugees of all backgrounds. Council member Dai Thao, who sponsored the resolution, amended the language before the vote to omit wording that stated Trump was not welcome within the city.”

Speaking of our Capitol City, Dan Bauman in the Pioneer Press reports, “Fourteen students in the St. Paul School District have been charged this year with assault of a school official, according to data from the Ramsey County Attorney’s Office. In total, the County Attorney has charged 26 students this year who attended school in Ramsey County with the same offense. … Since 2000, 578 cases have been brought against minors in Minnesota using the school-specific assault charge. Of that total, 171 cases, 29.6 percent, were filed in Ramsey County. Across the river, the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office has brought 109 cases, or 18.9 percent of the total, under the same charge.”  

Also in St. Paul: You steal a cop’s ride and you get probation. Elizabeth Mohr reports in the Pioneer Press, “A man who stole a St. Paul police officer’s patrol bike in August has been sentenced to probation. Devin Lamont Fitzgerald, 19, of St. Paul pleaded guilty to one count of felony theft, and a second was dismissed at sentencing last week. … When stopped by another officer near West Seventh Street and St. Clair Avenue, Fitzgerald said he’d borrowed the $1,500 bike to ride to work, the charges said.”

If not the butler, it’s always the “love interest.” Stribber Paul Walsh says, “An arrest has been made in Costa Rica in the stabbing death of a Minnesota native and University of St. Thomas graduate who arranged medical missions in the region, according to news reports from that Central American nation that pointed to a romantic connection between the victim and the suspect. Sondra Lynn Elizondo, 45, was visiting the Costa Rican capital of San Jose for business when police found her body on Dec. 9 in a hotel room, university officials said last week. … The man, whose identity has yet to be released, had with him items belonging to Elizondo, the report continued.”

Elizabeth Dunbar for MPR writes, “More solar energy is coming to the University Avenue light rail corridor in St. Paul. Next year, Innovative Power Systems will install solar panels on four commercial building rooftops in the area, thanks to a $1.9 million grant from Xcel Energy. The trains use a lot of electricity. But once the new panels are installed, solar power will make up 17 percent of the light rail’s annual electricity use.”

Says Matt Sepic for MPR, “The Minnesota Twins are installing additional netting at Target Field to protect fans from foul balls and flying bats. The nets will be seven feet tall and run along the first- and third-base dugouts. Matt Hoy, the Twins’ senior vice president of operations, said Target Field’s lower level seats are closer to the plate than in any other Major League stadium, and fan safety is a priority.” Maybe, just maybe, if they watched the game instead of their cellphone screens there wouldn’t be a problem.

Comments (14)

  1. Submitted by Bill Schletzer on 12/17/2015 - 07:03 am.

    why would anybody take a train to Duluth?

    It’s a two-and-a-half hour drive. It would take longer to drive downtown, park, wait to board, take the ride, rent a car in Duluth and with the parking and car rental it would wind up being more expensive than driving. Maybe some kids going to school up there would find it handy. I doubt most business people would find it preferable to driving up there. It would be an elaborate version of the dinner trains they had running out of Stillwater. Who makes up those rider projections, the Duluth Visitors bureau?

    • Submitted by Jim Million on 12/17/2015 - 08:55 am.

      Perhaps

      to get to Superior, Wisconsin?

    • Submitted by Gary Lo on 12/17/2015 - 08:59 am.

      Ski Train

      Bill, Maybe you don’t remember the ski train that used to travel from St. Paul to Duluth . It was a party all the way and when you got to Duluth a bus was waiting for you to take you to the ski resort. As a high school student it was a way to get away without having to have my parents involved. I’m sure the bus companies would come up with tours or trips to the sights, and the casinos would surly give you a ride to their establishment.

  2. Submitted by T J Simplot on 12/17/2015 - 07:46 am.

    For $25 – $30 I would gladly take the train over driving. One of the main reasons is that I wouldn’t have to drive. I could sit back, relax and do whatever instead of driving.

    • Submitted by Bill Schletzer on 12/17/2015 - 08:06 am.

      the only thing close to the train depot is Canal Park…

      but nothing else would be convenient for walking. It would be a cute getaway with your wife but aside from that not very practical. Other than that you would blow more on taxis and/or car rental. Would you seriously ever do that more than once?

      • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 12/17/2015 - 01:01 pm.

        Close?

        Dude you can walk from one end of Downtown Duluth to the other in 20 minutes, how much “closer” do you have to be?

        • Submitted by Todd Hintz on 12/22/2015 - 01:01 pm.

          Scored!

          Some people will spend fifteen minutes circling the parking lot waiting for a spot to open near the doors rather than take the first spot they come across and hike it into the mall.

          There are a lot of reasons two thirds of Americans are overweight and that is one of them.

  3. Submitted by Elsa Mack on 12/17/2015 - 08:42 am.

    Who would take the train?

    First off, people who don’t drive. There’s quite a few people who live in the city who don’t need a car for their daily lives, not to mention elderly people whose eyes aren’t so great anymore.

    For business travelers (and students, and tourists, and just about anyone), it would be nice to have those two and a half hours to get some work done, rather than having to stare at that flat, straight, boring stretch of 35 the whole way.

    Tourists could fly into MSP, spend a couple days in town then take a train to Duluth and visit the lake, or rent a car and head up the shore. I’m not sure if there’s shuttles from Duluth to Lutsen but I can imagine that making a fun ski trip for a lot of people.

    Also important are the travelers going south: lots of people up north might have a reason to visit the Cities (business, family, tourism, medical needs), without wanting to drive or pay for parking there.

    And finally—gas is cheap right now, but as we’ve all seen, it’s not always. When it goes up again, $30 for the train might seem like a pretty good deal.

    • Submitted by Bill Schletzer on 12/17/2015 - 12:03 pm.

      I don’t deny that some people take the train…

      for fun parties or because they can’t or won’t drive. Fine. Isn’t there already a train going there? There are tracks. So they knocked the price down from a billion to 600M. We can assume that like light rail that is a preliminary get-me-the-funding estimate. So the one-way ticket is 30 bucks. Four trains a day. How many people do you really think will be on those trains other than maybe Friday and Sunday for all the ski partiers and vacationers. I wish I knew the cost per mile to operate a high speed train after that initial HUGE investment in improving the track but I am willing to bet real money with any of you that the tax payer subsidy will exceed the ticket price for every person on those trains. That money could be spent in way better ways than subsidizing ski party people and others who won’t take the Greyhound. If there are more than a couple dozen people who on any weekday other than Friday would rather ride this train than drive I would be very surprised.

  4. Submitted by Bill Willy on 12/17/2015 - 11:56 am.

    Wow!

    “solar panels on four commercial building rooftops . . . will make up 17 percent of the light rail’s annual electricity use.”

    Someone please ask Pat Garofalo (or any of our state’s other fiscally conservative Republican luminaries) if that means spending $10 or $12 million to install them on 20 buildings would mean that rail line’s fuel costs would be $0.00 (when the sun shines) after that up-front investment was paid off, and why that would be a stupid, short-sighted, inefficient, fiscally irresponsible, waste of money.

  5. Submitted by Bob Peterson on 12/17/2015 - 12:37 pm.

    I’ve been waiting for a train for years–I hope it happens soon

    If halving the cost of the project makes it more likely to actually happen, great. But I share the concern that running fewer trains per day could make the effective travel time pretty long.

    I live out of state at the moment, but I go up to Duluth several times a year to visit family and friends. Flying there is not realistic, financially, and right now the options to get there from the Cities are car rental, bus, or shuttle. Rentals get expensive if you stay more than a few days, if you’re not lucky with the schedule the bus ride can take over 6 hours (!!), and Skyline Shuttle, although fairly priced and reasonably fast, is super cramped.

    I would imagine many people from Duluth would use the train to get to MSP for travel. For thirty bucks plus a ticket on the blue line, it might not take much longer than flying out of DLH if you need to catch a different flight at MSP anyway.

  6. Submitted by Steve Fester on 12/17/2015 - 03:57 pm.

    Passenger rail service to Duluth ended in 1982

    September 6, 1982, to be exact. See a report from KSTP’s evening newscast that day: http://tcmedianow.com/video/kstp-tv-eyewitness-news-10pm-from-september-6-1982-stan-turner-cyndy-brucato-bob-bruce-and-dave-dahl/

  7. Submitted by Todd Hintz on 12/22/2015 - 01:06 pm.

    Rail Line

    Personally, I would be inclined to go faster with the rail line rather than slower. Sure, it’ll cost more money up front, but then you’ll get there faster, which will attract a lot more riders. Make it a 200 MPH train rather than 90 MPH and you’ve got a winner.

    Do it right. Go big or go home.

  8. Submitted by Britter Ritter on 12/30/2015 - 08:08 pm.

    Yards Away?

    I was told by an Amtrak employee in St. Paul that BNSF or perhaps CN had recently completely reconfigured the rail yards in Superior so as to prevent any passenger train from having any expedient access to the depot in Duluth. A possible solution, it seems to me, is to use the old Northern Pacific route parallel to Highway 61, and traveling directly through Fond du Lac into Duluth, which would also be more scenic, albeit slow.
    Is what he said true? One would think he would know, as a railroad man, but he also could have just been being deliberately disagreeable because I had heavy luggage.

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