Are GOP lawmakers at the Legislature ‘focusing on roads and bridges’ or waging a ‘war on transit’?

MinnPost photo by Peter Callaghan
Rep. Paul Torkelson, R-Hanska, the chair of the House Transportation Finance committee, said he has been watching the A Line in St. Paul and agreed it has been successful.

Republicans in the Minnesota Legislature have made it pretty clear they’re not crazy about light rail transit in the Twin Cities.

Over the last several sessions, they’ve not only blocked state funding to complete the state’s next light rail project — the 14-mile extension of the Green Line known as Southwest LRT — but they’ve passed laws taking the state out of agreements to provide future operating funds currently in place for the existing Green and Blue lines.

So how about buses, especially the emerging plan to build more of what are called bus rapid transit (BRT) lines throughout the region?

BRT incorporates some of the benefits of light rail — frequent service, more-comfortable vehicles and stations, on-platform ticketing and some infrastructure improvements to keep things on schedule — via buses. Current metro-area BRT lines include the A Line, which runs down Snelling Avenue in St. Paul. Construction has also begun on the C Line, which will run mostly along Penn Avenue North in Minneapolis.

Gov. Mark Dayton put $50 million into his bonding bill request to help pay for construction of what is designated the D Line, which will replace the popular route 5 bus. It will go from Brooklyn Center through North Minneapolis and downtown Minneapolis, then continue to the Mall of America mostly along Chicago and Portland Avenues. Current ridership on the bus route is between 15,000 and 16,000 per weekday, but a new BRT line could carry 23,000 by the year 2030, Metro Transit planners estimate.

The agency has identified 11 other potential BRT corridors, mostly along the system’s most traveled bus routes in areas that are too narrow or too developed to accommodate light rail. Dayton’s request would also cover planning and design costs for additional lines such as the B Line, which would go along Lake Street and Marshall Avenue; and the E Line, along Hennepin Avenue.

So far, however, House and Senate Republicans aren’t buying what the Met Council is selling regarding BRT. Neither included Dayton’s requested funds in their own bonding bills. Nor did they include another $50 million Dayton requested for expansion of the Heywood Bus Garage.

All of which has been cited by the governor and DFL transportation leaders as evidence of an  anti-transit bias among some Republicans, not just an opposition to light rail.

“They want to destroy public transit,” Dayton said Monday. “They don’t want to fund light rail. Now they deleted bus service. … They want everybody in cars and pack them even tighter in their communities. People aren’t going to stand for that and people who have other options are going to go elsewhere.”

GOP: We’re focusing on roads & bridges

There are many more differences between Dayton’s bonding proposal and the House and Senate versions, especially since the Legislature’s bonding bills are roughly half the size of Dayton’s proposal. Yet the governor sees the omission of the BRT funding as another way that some GOP legislators are targeting the Twin Cities. “There’s a big partisan tinge to what the bonding bill does for Minneapolis and St. Paul and DFL strongholds and what it does for others all over the state,” Dayton said. “There’s got to be some balance and there’s got to be some common sense.”

Sen. Scott Dibble, the ranking DFLer on the Senate Transportation Finance and Policy committee, said the GOP silence on the BRT request is one example of what he has come to call a “War on Transit.” He adds it to a list that includes last year’s attempt to reduce operating funds for Metro Transit’s regular bus service; the ongoing criticism of light rail transit; the end of the state share of future LRT construction; and the proposed constitutional amendment to shift a piece of sales taxes to fund roads and bridges.

Sen. Scott Dibble

State Sen. Scott Dibble

“There’s not one thin cent for transit anywhere to be found in either bonding bill,” said Dibble, whose district covers southwest Minneapolis. “The Republicans profess to be for buses: ‘Buses are cheaper; they’re cheaper to build and cheaper to operate; they have the same kind of mobility benefits, etc.’ These things aren’t true, but it is what they believe and they say they are for buses. But there’s literally nothing. Not a cent.”

Rep. Paul Torkelson, R-Hanska, the chair of the House Transportation Finance committee, said he didn’t want to speak to decisions made by bonding bill drafters but agreed that he and other GOP lawmakers do prefer bus rapid transit to light rail.

“As a caucus and me personally, we have been much more supportive of the bus rapid transit lines,” Torkelson said. “We feel we get a lot more for our money and it has at least the potential of flexibility should the needs of the region change over time.”

Torkelson said he has been watching the A Line in St. Paul and agreed it has been successful. And GOP lawmakers in past sessions have provided money for the Orange Line, a highway BRT project between downtown Minneapolis and Burnsville.

This year, however, “our focus has been on the roads and bridges aspects of transportation,” Torkelson said, but he didn’t rule out changes as the Legislature negotiates with the governor on a final bill. “In the final days there’s a certain amount of horse trading that goes on to get things done. Bonding bills do have a habit of getting larger, not smaller. Time will tell.”

Because bonding bills require a supermajority to pass, the Democrats currently in the minority at the Legislature have a rare voice in the process, which often leads to concessions from the majority. But those concessions tend to be on the margins, as both the House and Senate require additions to be within the total spending limit of the bill.

At a Senate finance committee hearing Monday evening, metro lawmakers pushed for small amounts for local projects: repairs to the Stone Arch Bridge in Minneapolis and renovation of the RiverCentre Parking ramp in St. Paul. But those projects amounted to a few million dollars, not $50 million for one project like BRT. (UPDATE: an amendment by Sen. Sandra Pappas, DFL-St. Paul, to bring the Senate bonding bill closer to Dayton’s, including $50 million for BRT ,failed Wednesday 33-34. SF 4404 then gained a majority on a party line, 34-33, vote but fell well short of the super majority needed.)

Dibble: Chambers of commerce are ‘completely incapable of delivering’

The Legislature’s move comes in the wake of an annual report released last week by Greater MSP, the regional economic development organization, comparing the Twin Cities to 11 peer regions. The region dropped from 6th to 7th in the percentage of workers whose commute is less than 30 minutes. Minneapolis Regional Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Jonathan Weinhagen explained the drop as evidence that other regions’ investment in transit is now coming on line. “Our peer set is investing much more quickly than we are,” Weinhagen said.

In Minnesota, however, transit has become a polarizing issue. “It is polarizing in this state in a way that is relatively unique,” he said. “We look at other markets — Dallas, Houston, Salt Lake City — that are much more conservative that are investing in transit compared to Minneapolis-St. Paul region. It’s become a Metro v. Greater Minnesota discussion, and it shouldn’t be.” 

Yet GOP criticism of light rail is likely to get louder after Tuesday’s announcement that the price tag for Southwest LRT has increased again, from the $1.858 billion set in 2016 to $2.003 billion now. And since the Federal Transit Administration locked in its 50 percent match at the previous budget, Hennepin County the the Hennepin County Regional Rail Authority will have to pick up a $200 million increase in the costs.

Jonathan Weinhagen

Jonathan Weinhagen

Weinhagen, who had been an officer of the St. Paul Area Chamber of Commerce before taking the top job in Minneapolis, said the tenor of the debate could be due to criticism of the Met Council and of light rail, which is why he thinks BRT could cut through that. “It’s a newer mode nationally, but certainly a newer mode in our region,” he said. “We think it is a reasonable transit investment that everyone across Minnesota should get behind.”

The lack of money for BRT, however, has also exposed tensions between some metro DFLers and the business community. Dibble, in particular, had harsh words for local chambers of commerce who espouse pro-transit positions while being unable able to persuade Republicans in the Legislature to change their stance. “They talk a good game:  ‘We’re all about transportation; we’re all about transit; we’re all about getting people to jobs and goods to market,’” he said. “But they are completely incapable of delivering even one nickel, even one word in any bill.”

“This is their Legislature,” he said. “They elected these people. They put millions of dollars into independent expenditures and right into the coffers of candidates’ campaigns. They own it lock, stock and barrel.”

Weinhagen said he had heard that criticism directly from Dibble and understands his frustration. “I don’t think he’s wrong, but I also don’t believe that every business leader in the state is a Republican,” Weinhagen said. “So I think it’s a pretty broad brush.”

Comments (27)

  1. Submitted by Sean Olsen on 05/16/2018 - 11:40 am.

    It’s the same old song and dance

    How many times have we seen this?

    DEMOCRATS: “Let’s build light rail”

    REPUBLICANS: “We like buses!”

    DEMOCRATS: “OK, let’s expand busing.”

    REPUBLICANS: “We like roads and bridges!”

    DEMOCRATS: “Sure, let’s raise the gas tax so we can do a lot of that.”

    REPUBLICANS: “We like gimmicky budget shifts instead.”

    DEMOCRATS: “That doesn’t sound like a good idea.”

    REPUBLICANS: “Why won’t you do anything?”

  2. Submitted by Curtis Senker on 05/16/2018 - 12:19 pm.

    Headlines you’ll never see on Minnpost:

    Are Democrats in the Legislature focusing on transit or waging war on private automobile ownership?

    • Submitted by Matthew Steele on 05/16/2018 - 02:17 pm.

      Trust me, as someone who wants to wage war on private automobile ownership, the DFL is not embracing my desires.

      A bunch of DFL legislators, a DFL mayor, and a DFL gov candidate have all spoken in support of bonding for a ridiculously huge and unneeded River Center parking garage rebuild in St. Paul. The last thing St. Paul needs is more subsidized car storage, since parking is not a public good.

      So yeah, you’ll probably never see that headline on Minnpost, but some of us will keep fighting to get you that headline soon enough!

      • Submitted by Frank Phelan on 05/17/2018 - 09:56 am.

        Sell Some Bonds?

        How often is the River Centre ramp full to capacity? A good maxim here is don’t build your church based on the size of the crowd on Easter morning. At times the ramp is full, how many adjacent ramps are less than 95% full?

        What has become of the current ramp fees? Has any of that been tucked under the mattress for replacing the ramp? Or is this another manufactured crisis? If they’ve been spending $1M a year on upkeep, they should have been saving for a rainy day they knew would come. Does any of the current income go to Minnesota Sports Entertainment or it’s related divisions (MN Wild, St. Paul Arena Company)? Do we need to further subsidize pro sports around here?

        What I’d really like to see is a good analysis of how much of this could be financed by bonds paid off with revenues from ramp users.

        Between working and attending events at the X, I’m there probably 45 – 50 times each year. As long as it’s above 20 and I don’t have to deal with snow and ice, I’ll bike or bus there. Maybe I’ve just become a conservative old crank, but I don’t care to see my tax dollars go to subsidizing the storage of private automobiles. Who declared war on bikers, anyway?

    • Submitted by Joel Stegner on 05/16/2018 - 02:30 pm.

      Focusing on transit

      When transportation shows up in Democratic budget proposal the vast majority of funding goes to roads and budgets.

      Democrats also support sidewalks, cross walk, pedestrian bridges, bike paths and bike lanes,full time taxi cab drivers, buses, trains, Metro Mobility and anything and everything to help people get around, include places to lock up bikes securely, bike racks on buses, ride and bike sharing.

      They actually might be called “pro choice” when it comes to transportation. They realized that for those too young, old or poor to drive, those with disabilities, people who have drinking and those caught driving drunk, transit is essential.

      For Republicans,owned motor vehicles – preferably large and expensive – are the one tool in their tool belt – the hammer they like swinging. All money not for that is wasted.

      I do need to be fair. There are exceptions. When transportation shows up in Republican budgets, the only transit that gets enthusiastic support is school buses, because until their kids get their own cars, Republicans don’t want to drive their kids to school everyday – particularly in rural areas.

      Republicans also like ride sharing – for parents driving round children and their friends – and car pool lanes – so they can get to work faster by paying for the privilege or driving illegal with fake passengers (just kidding – few people bother with the fake passengers). They also like highly subsidized airports, for business and leisure travel and really love first class and private planes. Light rail – maybe to get to the Super Bowl or a Vikings game. They do like Uber too for a lot of reasons.

      It is interested that conservatives in conservative states like Texas are more secure about supporting transit. Texans do take a lot pride in being independent and conservative in a friendly way – not so passive aggressive.

      It is like Republicans and Democrats live in different universes

    • Submitted by Pat Terry on 05/16/2018 - 08:01 pm.

      Nope

      It would never be there because it makes no sense. People who only drive cars should support mass transit because it reduces congestion. Your commute goes faster with 30 people on a bus than in 30 other cars on the road. Car-only people are just screwing themselves by opposing mass transit.

      • Submitted by Tim Smith on 05/17/2018 - 09:23 am.

        we have tons of mass transit

        way more than 15 years ago even. We also have had several mammoth construction jobs since then and nothing changes with road congestion.

        • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 05/19/2018 - 11:36 am.

          Tim is correct

          Transit rarely reduces congestion, but transit promoters fall into a logic trap when they claim that it does. Transit moves people, and the better the transit, the more people it moves. We can’t measure the success of transit, or the logic of transit, by claiming that it’s big benefit is delivered to those who DON’T use it. We don’t build transit to lesson congestion for people who don’t use transit, we built transit to move people. So if you go to Boston for instance, the measure of transit success won’t be found among those who are sitting traffic jams, the measure of success is the fact that 100k+ people a day are using it. There are something like 400 million rides a year taken on the Boston transit sytem. Sure that’s 400 million fewer car rides, but traffic still sucks. You don’t want to back yourself into a corner dictated by the logic of congestion because congestion is an endemic problem. The logic of transit collapses if it’s goal it relieve congestion.

  3. Submitted by Frank Phelan on 05/16/2018 - 12:58 pm.

    Right On, Dibble!

    Rep. Dibble couldn’t be more correct on this. The “business community” needs to put up or shut up. How they can keep advocating for transit while donating wads of cash to candidates who oppose transit spending of any sort is a sign of ignorance or cognitive dissonance.

    It’s high time they get called out on this hypocrisy.

  4. Submitted by Arthur Himmelman on 05/16/2018 - 01:20 pm.

    The cost of the Southwest Light Rail project

    Does anyone believe the final total cost of the Southwest Light Rail project will be “only” $2,000,000,000 given that the cost projections went up $200,000,000 during the past year? And, the first time it tried, the Metropolitan Council could not find one company to build it within budget constraints and specifications. Does anyone know if there is limit to the amount of public funds politicians are willing to spend on this? If so, what is it?

  5. Submitted by Curtis Loschy on 05/16/2018 - 01:55 pm.

    Reality

    Republicans in the Minnesota Legislature have made it pretty clear they’re not crazy about anything for the Twin Cities.

  6. Submitted by Jay Severance on 05/16/2018 - 02:21 pm.

    War on Transit-Or Public Transportation in General?

    It seems that with the exception of airport subsidies, any requests for funding of public transportation are ignored. In addition to blocking transit in urban areas, the legislature has failed to provide any funding for public transportation which benefits rural and out-state communities.

    In this legislative session, bi-partisan bills were again introduced for funding of the MnDOT passenger rail plan, which would provide inter-city service to 30 out-state Minnesota communities. The bills have not been heard, and unless brought up as part of the omnibus bonding bill, the projects will be shut down!.

    Similarly to increased development of transit in peer cities, Minnesota has fallen behind peer states, including Michigan, Illinois, Missouri, and Wisconsin in providing inter-city passenger rail, and achieving economic and tourism benefits for their out-state communities.

    Rural legislators of both parties, mayors, and chambers are generally supportive of improved passenger rail service. It is unfortunate that funding can’t be provided for public transportation to benefit their constituents, unless it is a road or bridge

  7. Submitted by Jason Rightler on 05/16/2018 - 02:55 pm.

    not news – just rhetoric

    Mr. Callaghan,
    It is nice of you to help our bumbling lame duck governor get his ham-fisted rhetoric out to the community. As if the local tv news and newspapers weren’t already doing that. “The War on Transit” is clearly false; as evidenced by the reasoned approach of the Republicans quoted in your piece while the Democrats give only angry finger-pointing.
    The priory of this legislature is a broad reduction of State Government power and Federal Government influence in Minnesota. Defeating mass-transit boondoggles is part of that work. As is a reduction of individual and business financial burdens in our over-taxed state. Personally, I can’t WAIT to see the ridiculous and embarrassing Met Council removed from it’s broad powers and returned to their original intended scope. Having an non-elected body with such influence has proven to be a huge mistake.

    https://www.americanexperiment.org/2017/06/report-shows-twin-cities-traffic-congestion-no-accident/

    • Submitted by Frank Phelan on 05/16/2018 - 03:24 pm.

      Source?

      Who funds the Center For The American Experiment? Inquiring minds want to know, and I’ve mnever gotten an answer.

  8. Submitted by Gerald Abrahamson on 05/16/2018 - 04:16 pm.

    Center for American Experiment = conservative movement

    “Peter Zeller is Director of Operations at Center of the American Experiment and has been involved with the Center nearly from the beginning, having volunteered at the first conference in 1990 before joining the staff in 1993. He studied Speech-Communication, History, and Business at the University of Minnesota and has been involved in the conservative movement in Minnesota for over 30 years.”

    https://www.americanexperiment.org/about/peter-zeller/

  9. Submitted by Tom Anderson on 05/16/2018 - 08:06 pm.

    What of the “crumbling roads and bridges?”

    After a bridge fell down we discovered that there were lots and lots of sub-standard roads and bridges. Has that number been reduced in the last eight years and if so, how many are still deficient? The transportation department quotes millions (actually billions) just to get our infrastructure up to date yet I don’t remember any large funding packages being delivered so it seems like investing in this infrastructure would be a good thing.

  10. Submitted by Mike Downing on 05/17/2018 - 10:42 am.

    1971 vs 2018 Roads & Bridges…

    We moved to MN in 1971 when the Twin City population was around 1 million. Roads & bridges were fantastic, commute times were short and traffic jams were virtually nonexistent. Fast forward to today when the Twin City population is around 3.5 million and our roads & bridges are in bad shape, commute times are horrible and traffic jams are everywhere. Yet more & more workers are giving up the commute by working from home. Road capacity may have increased by 20-25% since 1971 but only around 10% of our population growth of 250%.

    Our state government has reallocated gas tax & transportation funds to bike trails & light rail. Yes, it is beyond time to focus on roads & bridges!!!

    • Submitted by ian wade on 05/17/2018 - 02:39 pm.

      Bikes and light rail aren’t the problem…

      they’re part of the solution. Ever driven in Atlanta, Chicago, Houston, LA, Milwaukee, Cincy, or Philly? There is no city that has some magical rush hour where congestion doesn’t exist. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how many lanes you build as you have a finite number of exits which means you will still have slow downs and congestion as traffic funnels towards them. You either move to more mass transit or embrace “congestion pricing.”

    • Submitted by Frank Phelan on 05/17/2018 - 05:29 pm.

      Channeling My Inner John McEnroe

      “You cannot be serious!”

      The 494-35W interchange upgrade will cost three hundred million dollars, or as some like to say, THREE HUNDRED MILLION DOLLARS. That’s for one interchange.

      When 35E in Saint Paul had MNPASS lanes added, I mean, completely rebuilt and rerouted, it cost nearly a quarter of a billion dollars or, a QUARTER, oh you know what I mean.

      We could criss-cross the Metro with bike lanes and trails for that kind of dough.

      Those who have hair and do not have glasses yet can visit Wiki to catch my McEnroe reference.

    • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 05/19/2018 - 03:40 pm.

      Mr Downing…

      The wonderful infrastructure you moved into in 1974 was the one built by Democrats. Subsequently as they’ve gained more power small govmint no-spend Republicans under-built the infrastructure you’re complaining about today. I remember a few years after Republicans captured the legislature and produced one of their first budgets they actually bragged about denying funding for metro (i.e. Democrat “strongholds”) projects.

      And then there a are plain facts about roads and bridges that fact-challenged Republicans obviously have difficulty with. While populations increase, land area with a given boundary does NOT actually increase to accommodate larger populations. This is why you can’t build your way out of congestion with more and more lanes. And as the number of vehicles on the roads increases along with the population (in the absence of transit alternatives) more vehicles do more damage to the roads, so you have to increase maintenance budgets dramatically in order to keep your roads and bridges from degrading into the state you’re complaining about. That didn’t happen during the Pawlenty years of “We have a spending problem not a revenue problem” budget cuts. If you’re recall Pawlenty actually vetoed the gas tax increase that ended up paying for the increase spending on roads and bridges we finally got, although it was woefully insufficient.

      So no… the problem isn’t bikes and trains, the problem is Republicans who can’t reconcile government responsibility to build and maintain infrastructure with their ongoing mission of dismantling the government.

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 05/18/2018 - 10:27 am.

      1971 Was 47 Years Ago

      I remember 1971 tolerably well. As you point out, the population of the metro area has more than tripled.

      Is that all that has changed? Back in ’71, we were talking about the “Seven County Metro Area.” If you assayed a crossing of the Minnesota River on the Cedar Avenue bridges (thrills and spills for all!), you came out into an area of open fields, punctuated with the occasional strip mall or apartment complex. A radio commercial jingle that is still an earworm for me told us that it was possible to own “a home of your own on an acre of land, south of Elk River for 22 grand.” Maple Grove existed, but that was all one could say about it.

      Now, how do things look? Suburban and exurban sprawl happened. Just across the river in Eagan, the open fields are gone. Maple Grove is well and thoroughly built up, and having a whole acre south of Elk River? Good luck.

      Commute times are “horrible (way to quantify!),” but a large part of that is due to people buying or building homes further and further away from their workplaces. Commutes from Wisconsin or Big Lake to the core cities or inner ring suburbs are a common thing. It isn’t the bad road that’s slowing you down, it’s the desire to play country squire in Buffalo while you commute to St. Louis Park.

      “Yet more & more workers are giving up the commute by working from home.” You say that like you think it’s a bad thing. Fewer drivers are placing less demand on the infrastructure, as well as helping to reduce energy consumption. I would call that a net positive.

      FWIW, people all over the country are driving less than they used to. Annual per-capita automobile travel in the US declined by 600 miles from 2003 to 2014. The decrease has been greatest among young adults.

  11. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 05/17/2018 - 11:38 am.

    What roads and bridges?

    I don’t know how someone can write an article about transportation spending in MN without mentioning the fact that Republicans have ALWAYS dramatically underfunded infrastructure, of any kind… THAT’S what small guvmint is all about. Democrats have ALWAYS put more money, or tried to put more money into roads and bridges, Dayton’s bonding bill for roads and bridges was twice as large as the Republican budget. MN has the 4th largest road network in the nation, we have more road miles per capita than California or Texas, and a fraction of their populations and size. Who do people think built all those roads and bridges? Republicans?

    Eliminating transit funding and cutting funding for roads bridges is NOT how you make roads and bridges a priority, and it’s not how manage transportation infrastructure responsibly. It’s how you get collapsing bridges… oh wait…

    One also has to point out that Republicans alone are not responsible for all of this. The last time Democrats ran the table with control of both houses AND the governors mansion they left hundreds of millions of transit and infrastructure spending on the table rather than push through the funding and taxes needed to pay for it. They dialed it back out inane concerns that “over-reach” might cost them the election… they lost the election and we got stuck with the Republican nonsense. SWLRT is likewise not all on Republican tab, that train was supposed running two years ago, and would have been had elite Democrats in the Kenwood area, the Park Board, and Dayton himself not tossed one delay after the other into the mix. Before Dayton threatened to cut State money for the Park Board, he stalled the project and demanded another $50 million “study” just to confirm what all the previous studies had already found. So yeah, the cost of the project has gone up the longer we delay it… duh.

    If you have to ask whether nor not Republicans are hostile to transit, or spending in the Twin Cities urban core… you just haven’t been paying attention.

    • Submitted by Karen Sandness on 05/20/2018 - 11:48 am.

      The Kenwood route for SW Light Rail was never ideal, even before the NIMBYs got into the act with their increasingly far-fetched objections.

      If the purpose was really to bring Northside residents to jobs in Eden Prairie, it should have started farther into the Northside, not at a place that Northside residents already have to take a bus to get to.

      If its purpose was to encourage New Urbanism and walkability, it should have run down Hennepin or Lyndale to the Midtown Greenway and terminated in Hopkins or Excelsior.

      I’ve said this before, but if I were Transit Czarina, the whole system, buses and trains alike, would be redesigned to answer a different question. It would not be designed to answer the question, “How can we get everyone to their downtown jobs and back, Monday through Friday?” The system already does that very well, an A+ job.

      The right question to ask, for social, environmental, and economic reasons, is, “How can we make it easy to live without a car in the Metro area?” So far, the system gets a B-/C+ in that regard.

      In addition, Greater Minnesota has transit needs, too. The rural poor are pretty much required to own cars, whether they can afford them or not, which in practice means that they drive old junkers and don’t insure them. The elderly are loath to give up their driver’s licenses, even if–especially if–they are headed into dementia. Perhaps some of the small cities or sparsely populated counties could get grants to set up a system of van routes that circulated to various major shopping and medical facilities on a regular basis.

      Unfortunately, the Republicans’ answer to the transit needs of the party’s own constituents would be, “What transit needs? Don’t they have people who can give them rides?”

      • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 05/21/2018 - 12:57 pm.

        The purpose of the SWLRT (and this is obvious) is move people in out of downtown MPLS from the SW suburbs. That’s why it’s called the Southwest Light Rail. The selected route while maybe not “ideal” in some way, fits that mission and was selected for a variety of very good reasons. Light rail is about providing transit options. MPLS already HAS transit within the city, and if they wanted SWLRT to conform to some “urbanist” agenda… why aren’t they putting a single dime of money into it’s construction?

        Sure, transit infrastructure can promote some of the other objectives Karen mentions, but none of those objectives are served by a single light rail route, be it SW or any other route. It’s not uncommon to see different constituencies try to hijack projects for their own means, but in this case those efforts have seriously botched the entire project.

  12. Submitted by Dennis Wagner on 05/17/2018 - 05:43 pm.

    The easy answer

    Yell at your representatives to “INCREASE YOUR TAXES” road construction is not cheap, it isn’t permanent, and ironically experience strongly suggest if you build it they will come, Meaning, build 2 lanes 10 years later expand to 3, 10 years later expand to 4. Maintenance costs have just doubled, but all the whiners don’t want to pay for that 4 lane luxury! Surprised folks aren’t screaming against investment in airports, airplanes are mass transportation, basically a flying bus. People get a grip.

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 05/18/2018 - 11:11 am.

      Well Said!

      “[E]xperience strongly suggest if you build it they will come . . .” Exactly! If all our freeways were reconfigured to reduce congestion for current demands, the public would not limit itself to saying “that’s more like it! Just this, and nothing more!” New commuters would see one less reason for them not to commute by car, and the whole process would continue.

      • Submitted by ian wade on 05/18/2018 - 12:12 pm.

        It’s called “triple convergence.”

        Commuters who have traveled other routes, converge on the new system, overwhelming the new capacity and making it just as congested, if not more, as before. Couple that with merges to on and off ramps, car only lanes etc and you have a problem that no additional lanes will ever solve.

Leave a Reply