The Star Tribune’s Pat Doyle looks today at legislative proposals to strip some transportation planning authority from the Metropolitan Council.
A big complaint seems to be that important decisions on transit and road funding are being made by appointed council leaders, not elected officials.
At stake are decisions on how to spend the limited money available for transportation — on road maintenance and transit, or expanding highways in the suburbs?
Scott County officials particularly don’t like recent transportation priority decisions and seem to have initiated the legislative plans, the story says.
Spending in outlying suburban counties took a back seat to spending on expressway toll lanes and transit in the inner core, said Lisa Freese, transportation program manager for Scott County.
“They have a very focused policy plan that works well inside the beltway but not well outside the beltway,” Freese said. “Essentially … they have said, ‘We’re not going to have any major projects ever again.'”
Newly appointed Met Council Chair Susan Haigh disagrees, saying her agency develops plans with “a lot of local perspective” from elected officials, and that most of them support the agency.
She tells the paper:
“I can understand why Scott County people would be more interested in expansion than preservation, because they are a growth-oriented county.”
She defended the agency’s priorities at a time when transportation planners face large shortfalls in funding.
“This will be a critical issue … how do you allocate scarce resources?” she asked. “You really want to be focusing on … preserving and improving the existing transportation.”
And the story notes Legislative Auditor Jim Nobles report earlier this year the Twin Cities lacks a well-planned transit system and that the Met Council “lacks adequate credibility and accountability.”
“Reform is needed,” Nobles said. “Reform will not be easy to accomplish.”