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Letters: Stick to the Hennepin reconstruction plan, elect the Met Council

Our weekly roundup of letters from MinnPost readers.

A detail of a rendering of the recommended design layout for reconstruction on south Hennepin.
A detail of a rendering of the recommended design layout for reconstruction on south Hennepin.
City of Minneapolis

On Hennepin, stick to the plans

Aaron Meyers’ recent piece (“Hennepin Avenue needs a holistic redesign, not another Public Works mistake”) contained numerous false claims about Minneapolis Public Works’ recommended reconstruction of Hennepin Avenue.

Meyers wrote that the recent reconstruction of Hennepin Avenue south of Lake Street, which added bike lanes, was “disastrous,” claiming it “decreased property values.” In reality, land values continue to rise in this corridor because the area remains desirable.

Meyers also questions the climate benefits of replacing two travel lanes with bus and bike lanes. Simply put, buses and bicycles have lower greenhouse gas emissions per rider than cars. He claims this plan will result in idling cars on the street, while simultaneously suggesting we will rely on electric cars in the future (which do not idle). This reconstruction plan actually smooths out traffic flow by adding left turn lanes so traffic won’t be stuck behind turning motorists.

Additionally, the author questions the need for bus lanes and the future of transit. The existing bus lanes on Hennepin, by themselves, improved bus speeds by 15-18% and reliability by 50-75%, according to Public Works. This plan accommodates changing commute patterns by running frequent, all-day service on the E Line.

Meyers also incorrectly assumes that privately owned and publicly accessible parking is mutually exclusive. Privately owned parking ramps, like those at MoZaic and Seven Points, have signs that literally say “public parking.” Businesses also allow their customers to park in their lots.

In this project, there’s no need to debate whether bike and bus lanes are needed, because the city’s Transportation Action Plan, Complete Streets Policy, and Street Design Guide already dictate what Hennepin Avenue should look like. We only need to follow these plans.

—Sam Penders, Minneapolis

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Elections for the Met Council

The Metropolitan Council is currently led by a board of appointed individuals who control its $1.235 billion budget. This billion-dollar budget is made up of funds from transit fares, wastewater revenue, as well as 36% of Motor Vehicle State Tax and property tax levies. This budget allows the Council to provide many different services to our communities: environmental services, community development, and transportation to name a few. It makes sense that this organization has a billion-dollar budget. However, what doesn’t make sense about the Metropolitan Council is that the board is not made up of elected officials. As it stands, Metropolitan Council board members are appointed by the governor.

The state senate has been presented with HF 1122/SF 938, which aims to make the Metropolitan Council a more democratic and accountable council by electing officials to the Metropolitan Council.

The council has the authority to tax; yet is not chosen by taxpayers. The council controls the third-largest police department (Metro Transit Police); and is not chosen by taxpayers. The council’s decisions can have major impacts on the daily lives of residents in 7 different counties; but those residents don’t choose who sits on the board.

The bill is still in committee, and our representatives need to hear your voice. Please reach out to Rep. Sandra Masin (51A) and Sen. John Jasinski (24) and let them know you want an elected Metropolitan Council.

—John Kiel, Minneapolis

MinnPost welcomes original letters from readers on current topics of general interest. Interested in joining the conversation? Submit your letter to the editor. The choice of letters for publication is at the discretion of MinnPost editors; they will not be able to respond to individual inquiries about letters.