« November 2011 |
| January 2012 »
With most of the office out celebrating the end of the year, here is a shortened version of our Weely Transportation News --see you in 2012!
- New York Times: Europe Stifles Drivers in Favor of Mass Transit and Walking
- Finance & Commerce: Bottineau 'Scoping' to Get under Way (subscription needed)
- Where the Sidewalk Starts: Walking in Winter Wonderland (BWTC mentioned)
- KSTP TV: Minnetonka Preaches Safety When Walking, Biking in Winter
From Transit for Livable Communities
With the New Year, we’re saying a big thanks to TLC board members Chuck Holtman, Tom Lais, Michael Lander, Sherry Munyon, and Teresa Wernecke for their service over the past years. We are very grateful for their dedication to TLC’s mission and their service in the effort to increase the options for transit, bicycling and walking for Minnesota residents. We wish them well in future endeavors.
Michael Lander left the board after many years, and is spending more time on several residential developments he has in the pipeline. Tom Lais took a new job in Milwaukee and likely is bicycling to work there, as he did year-round here. Teresa Wernecke retired and is enjoying some well-deserved time to pursue long-deferred interests. We’re happy to say that Sherry Munyon continues to advise TLC on the Program and Policy Committee and Chuck Holtman will continue on the Bike Walk Committee through the completion of the Bike Walk Twin Cities federal nonmotorized pilot program.
With the 2012 year, we also welcome Jan Lysen as the new chair of the TLC Board of Directors. Jan takes over from Jennifer Munt, a tireless leader. Jennifer led TLC through two years of transition, including the adoption of a new strategic plan in 2011 and hiring of a new Executive Director. Jennifer continues to serve as the Secretary of the board.
Thank you to all current and former TLC board members, without whom this organization and our mission could not thrive.
From Hilary Reeves, Communications Director
The proposed downtown Minneapolis multimodal transportation hub adjacent to Target Field—a.k.a. The Interchange—got a financing boost this past week with the announcement of $10 million in federal support through a TIGER grant from the US DOT. The goal is for the new facility to open when the Central Corridor Light Rail service begins in 2014, doubling the number of LRT trains arriving in downtown Minneapolis to 500 arrivals and departures per day. TLC wrote a letter supporting the project as part of the application for TIGER funding.
Senator Amy Klobuchar (speaking) and l-r behind her: Hennepin County Commissioner Peter McLaughlin; Metropolitan Council Chair Sue Haigh; Will Schroeer, Saint Paul Chamber of Commerce; Charlie Zelle, Minneapolis Area Chamber of Commerce
Senator Amy Klobuchar gathered with local leaders on Thursday, December 22, to indicate the importance of this transportation investment to making the Twin Cities a thriving economic center. She was joined by Sue Haigh from the Met Council, several county commissioners and representatives from local Chambers of Commerce and the Minnesota Twins. A good-sized crowd gathered in the waiting area for Northstar commuter trains—another mode that serves the proposed location for the Interchange.
What is the Interchange? The Minneapolis Interchange and Saint Paul’s Union Depot will both act as multimodal hubs for the region’s growing transit network. The Minneapolis location for the proposed Interchange already serves both the Hiawatha light rail line and NorthStar commuter trains. The Interchange would serve the Central Corridor trains when it opens in 2014 and the Southwest LRT line, scheduled to open in 2018. It would also provide connections to more than 1,900 bus operations as well as to bicycle routes to surrounding neighborhoods and trails. Vehicle parking (400 new spaces) would also be part of the project. The Minneapolis Interchange also could serve any future high speed rail connections between Minneapolis/Saint Paul and Chicago. The newly renovated Saint Paul Union Depot will accommodate Amtrak trains traveling between Seattle and Chicago starting next year. The Minneapolis Interchange is a project of the Hennepin County Regional Railroad Authority (HCRRA).For more information about The Interchange, visit the project web site.
Senator Klobuchar said, “There’s a direct correlation between this kind of investment and economic development.” Noting the competition for these funds at the federal level, she said, “If they don’t come here they will go to Chicago or Arizona. I want it right here.” She thanked Representatives McCollum and Ellison, Senator Franken and former Senator Coleman for their support for the project at the federal level.
Metropolitan Council Chair Sue Haigh said that hubs like the Interchange and Union Depot help shorten transit time, making it more attractive for people to choose transit for commuting and other trips. She said that rather than building more parking ramps, Minneapolis could focus on other kinds of development.
Hennepin County Commissioner Peter McLaughlin said the Interchange plaza would direct the flow of passengers to the different travel options, for commuters and also fans coming to Target Field.
McLaughlin called the Interchange “a prudent risk to move the county and region forward” and make it more competitive. He noted that business allies strongly supported the project and the build out of the transit system. “We are not talking about individual lines, we are talking about a system,” he said, adding “we will live our lives differently and better with these investments.”
Will Schroeer from the Saint Paul Chamber of Commerce and Charlie Zelle from the Minneapolis Area Chamber of Commerce both noted that the new hub would serve the people going to work using the Hiawatha and Central Corridor LRT lines. There are 280,000 jobs along the Central Corridor today, a number expected to rise to 374,000 by 2030. Zelle said, “Investments here are important for jobs at both ends of the Central Corridor LRT,” giving residents of Minneapolis and North Minneapolis access as well as opening the North Loop area for further development.
Minnesota Twins President David St. Peter said the Interchange would be “fulfillment of a vision our leaders had for a ballpark in the North Loop, with wonderful connections to transit.” He said fans will love accessing Target Field via the Northstar, Hiawatha, and the Central Corridor—hopefully for the All Star Game in 2014. He said, “These projects take vision, courage, and leadership.”
Funding for the Interchange project is not yet complete. According to a Star Tribune story, in addition to the $10 million from the TIGER grant, the Interchange project “was awarded $11 million by the Metropolitan Council. It also received $6.7 million from the county rail authority and $1.7 million from the Minnesota Ballpark Authority, which owns Target Field.” The Star Tribune reported the total project cost at $67.7 million. Commissioner McLaughlin said that there would be a proposal in coming weeks opening up options for public-private partnerships, including development rights, naming rights, and parking rights. The TIGER funding adds momentum to the project.
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From Transit for Livable Communities
The 2012 Minnesota legislative sessions opens Tuesday, January 24, 2012. The big focal point from a transportation perspective will be the bonding bill. There are several important transitway infrastructure projects that need a financial contribution from the state to move forward. These transitway projects are important investments for the region’s economic competitiveness. The next state budget forecast, to be released in February, could change the focus of the session if it predicts a state budget deficit. The latest forecast, released in December, projected a surplus for this biennium (though not for future years).Given this starting point for the session, here is the TLC legislative agenda for the 2012 session.
Two Minnesota projects have received grants from the US Department of Transportation. The funding is part of the TIGER III program that invests in U.S. transportation infrastructure.
The Minneapolis Transit Interchange project is awarded $10 million. This project consists of a new passenger platform, storage and staging tracks, and a new plaza at the
Target Field LRT station in Downtown Minneapolis. The improvements are needed to accommodate the expected growth in ridership when the Central Corridor light rail line opens in 2014. Additional funding to complete the project will come from state, county, and local sources. Click here for more information about this project.
Additionally, the City of Northfield is awarded more than $1 million to construct a pedestrian bridge across Hwy 3 and the existing railroad tracks. This award is more than 2/3 of the total cost of the project. This bridge will serve a large number of bicyclists and pedestrians in an area where 23% of trips are made on foot or by bicycle. This will be a significant improvement to the safety and mobility of Northfield residents.
Here’s a link to the full DOT announcement.
Read TLC's letter of support for several projects: Download Henn cnty TIGER TLC support letter FINAL
From Hilary Reeves, TLC
It seems a good time to cast a backward glance at 2011 and to retrieve some of the blog entries we might have missed in the hurly-burly of the year. What are your highlights of 2011—memorable events, positive or negative?
- Defending transit service despite cuts to general fund allocation for transit. Hats off to our members & allies.
- New bikeways opening across Twin Cities, thanks to BWTC nonmotorized transportation pilot program.
- Central Corridor 30% complete. Union Depot groundbreaking. Preliminary Engineering begins on Southwest LRT.
- Ongoing federal bike/ped funding for states preserved (for now). Kudos to Minnesota’s Senators Klobuchar and Franken for voting against efforts to eliminate dedicated funding for Transportation Enhancements.
- $51m cut to General Fund allocation to Transit and MN State Government shutdown – resulting in slowdown of light rail/bus rapid transit build-out.
- EPA regulations to improve air quality postponed.
- New St Croix Crossing. The momentum for the mega-bridge has slowed, with questions about the huge cost, especially given other transportation needs.
- New Federal Transportation Law. Committees in Congress are marking up legislation. Keep up to date via Transportation for America.
As we head into 2012, here are 10 pieces from our blogs we want to make sure you didn't miss. And, we take this opportunity to say thank you again to Michelle Dibblee, who left TLC in 2011 to work for Minnesotans United for All Families; Alicia Adams, who now works with Redeemer Center for Life and the Venture North Bike Walk Center. We also send a huge thank you to Andrea Kiepe, who departs at the end of December. She has been an amazing Minnesota/North Dakota organizer for our partners, Transportation for America.
Anchoring Equity to Achieve Sustainable Regional Development Outcomes
In other words, economic opportunity is substantially impacted by transportation infrastructure.
Do You Need Your Bus Pass Validated?
You often hear of stores, businesses, and offices validating your parking ticket as a way of thanking you for shopping there or defraying the cost of getting where you need to be. But, have you ever heard anyone offer to validate your bus pass or reward you for bicycling or walking to the same location?
10 Design Elements that Can Transform Your City
Steve Clark shares 10 design elements that have helped Minneapolis gain its reputation as the number one bike-friendly city in the nation.
Interview with David Thornton, MPCA Assistant Commissioner
Transportation sources are a significant part of the problem we have with ozone and particulate matter (soot).
Nonmotorized Pilots Brief Congress
Our message was that focused, comprehensive bike/walk investments do shift trips from driving to bicycling/walking.
The Annual Cost of Owning a Car is $8,776.
AAA released last week their report on the annual cost of owning a car, about $8776 for a sedan, $11,239 for a SUV.
Rural-Urban Divide for Pedestrian Deaths Shows Need for Complete Streets
Crossing the street in Greater Minnesota can be more deadly than on the busier streets of the Twin Cities.
Helmets Off to Minneapolis: Bicycle Master Plan
On July 22nd the Minneapolis City Council passed a Bicycle Master Plan, creating a comprehensive game plan worthy of a #1 bicycling city.
Leveraging Cedar Avenue BRT for the Southeast Metro
Apple Valley has undertaken a bold effort to leverage expanded transit service to create walkable, bikeable neighborhoods with attractive destinations.
Shaping Minnesota's Transportation Vision --We're On the GO
What does this new vision mean for Minnesota’s transportation investments?
From Owen Duckworth, TLC
In early November, I attended PolicyLink’s Equity Summit in Detroit, MI. PolicyLink, a national research and action institute, based in Oakland, CA, focuses on economic and social equity. Summit attendees were able to take in a wealth of ideas, information, stories, and wisdom from work being done around the world. The conference brought together activists, elected officials, researchers, policy makers, organizers, and community leaders from around the country, and some internationally, to discuss the issue of equity. The attendees were an amazingly ethnically and racially diverse mix, which allowed for some very powerful conversations on race, class, power, and privilege between black, white, Asian, Latino, and indigenous people who were in attendance. With over 2300 people and a delegation of 150 from the Twin Cities region alone, it was a powerful experience to see the number of people who were able to come together for the conference.
PolicyLink’s motto is fairly simple, “equity is the superior model for growth for the 21st century.” In other words, focusing our resources for those who are the furthest behind —in terms of employment, education opportunities, and achievement, etc. —will provide the greatest amount of long term economic benefit for our nation. PolicyLink and others in the equity movement explain the need to move an “equity agenda” forward due to the rapidly changing demographics in this country that will see people of color become the majority by the early 2040s. In a globalized world economy, diversity will be a major strength in connecting to the rest of the world, but major disparities still exist across racial lines in the US that would limit the extent to which all communities could contribute to the economy. Hence, there’s both an opportunity and also great urgency in addressing equity, or as founder and CEO Angela Glover Blackwell put it “equity is no longer the moral thing to do, it is now an economic imperative.”
The Summit was filled with inspiring plenary sessions as well as very informative workshops, which was great since it’s rare to find both at many conferences. Plenary sessions focused on talking about work to support equity in different regions and communities. The workshops were more issue-based; there were a number of workshops on transportation equity and transit organizing, which I attended. Some of the most inspirational speakers were people doing transportation equity work in some of the most segregated, poorest, and isolated communities in this country.
Nick Tilsen, a young community leader from Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota, described the process of working with leaders on their first ever comprehensive transportation plan as part of a Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Sustainable Communities grant. The need for giving decision making power and input to communities that have been historically left out of transportation planning was front and center in his story. He stated, “no one had ever asked the Lakota people what they wanted for their future.”
In another workshop on winning organizing campaigns for equity, Lou Turner, an activist working on transit equity issues on Chicago’s south side, discussed the need for better transportation options for residents. Turner’s group, the Developing Communities Project, has been working on getting the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) to extend the Red Line further south and in 2009 was successful in getting CTA to approve a plan to expand to the city’s southern limits. They are now working with community members to leverage benefits from new transit oriented development near proposed stations.
Both Lou’s and Nick’s stories reminded me why I got into organizing work in the first place: a desire to empower myself and other people to improve our communities and our circumstances, and, ultimately, ourselves. Sappy as it might sound, it’s true any work that claims to promote racial, social or economic equity must start with empowering people and communities. I left Detroit feeling reenergized from new information, talking points, ideas, and relationships that I’d gained from a three day stay at the conference.
At Transit for Livable Communities, we believe public transit to be a more equitable form of transportation because of its affordability when compared with the high cost to purchase and maintain a motor vehicle. Our region still needs to ensure that more of the regions’ jobs, education, health care, and entertainment, can be accessed by public transit. But just because we advocate for a more equitable mode of transportation doesn’t mean that we’re pushing forward an agenda that always addresses core issues of equity in our region. At the core of inequities in our region and our nation is still the issue of who has power and who doesn’t; who sits at policy and decision-making tables and who isn’t included. This dynamic has certainly played itself out in terms of transportation investments and development patterns in our region over the last half century. Communities of color and low-income communities have seen transportation investments either directly damage (St. Paul’s Rondo Community) or provide minimal access by further spreading out jobs and economic opportunities to parts of region only accessible by car.
At TLC we still have work to do internally to address where we can be stronger in advocating for equity and move to be a more inclusive and racially diverse organization. Externally we’ll continue to bring new voices to the places where decisions are being made about our region’s transportation system while expanding and deepening relationships with communities. I look forward to continue working with members, staff, board members, and our allies in doing this work. Having been part of the 150 person delegation to this Summit, it’s clear to me that equity is now front and center in progressive work in the Twin Cities region and TLC needs to be and will be part of the movement.