Minnesota BillsThe 2014 Minnesota state legislature is in session now, committees are meeting, and legislators want to know how to vote for the bills in front of them. Help Minnesota legislators to know how to vote.
House File 2061 (status) and Senate File 2077 (status) is $10 million to Ramsey County for whatever will increase rail capacity in the east metro. Is their a rail capacity problem in Ramsey County's east metro?!? Is this a slush fund for streetcars or Gateway Corridor? If this bill were to pass and Ramsey County used or attempted to use this money without actually causing any increase to rail capacity, any litigious individual would have the civic responsibility to challenge the purpose in a court of law. Contact the House Transportation Finance (schedule) or Senate Finance (schedule) committee members to voice your opinions.
House File 2332 (status) and Senate File 2074 (status) is $5 million for Gateway Corridor (see details below) despite no decision on whether it is a bus or a train (big difference!) or if it is needed at all. Contact the House Transportation Finance (schedule) or Senate Finance (schedule) committee members to voice your opinions.
House File 2231 (status) and Senate File 2251 (status) is $75.3 million slush fund for any transit projects, good or bad, for the 7 metro counties. Update: HF2231 is on the agenda for the March 12th 10am House Transportation Finance committee.
House File 2395 (status) and Senate File 2107 (status) gives $200 million to Corridors of Commerce as study money and to begin property salvage and seizure (eminent domain). Was Kelo v. New London (2005) so long ago that state legislators have forgotten its lessons? Funding is from a gas tax rate of either: ten cents per gallon or five percent of the Minnesota wholesale gasoline price per gallon, whichever is more. If gas is $3.50 per gallon, the tax is 17¢ per gallon ($3.50 x 5% = 17 cents per gallon). If gas is $2 or less, the tax is 10 cents per gallon. Plus a sales tax increase of 1%. Plus an additional tax of $20 on cars purchased. All of this money will be spent by a new GEARS Committee and must be used for the Southwest light rail transit project and the Bottineau Boulevard, Riverview, Robert Street, Red Rock, Gateway, I-394 Commuter Corridor, and Rush Line transitways [sic]. But without federal money, there will not be any big transportation projects. According to the Washington Post, with the Federal Highway Trust Fund forecast to go bankrupt next year and the current U.S. transportation bill expiring Oct. 1st, Congress is struggling to find funds for a new long-term transportation bill. Contact the House Transportation Finance (schedule) or Senate Transportation & Public Safety (schedule) committee members to voice your opinions.
Senate File 1963 (status) tells the Met Council, cities, and counties how to address disagreements like what has happened to the Southwest Corridor project. Contact Senate Transportation & Public Safety committee members to voice your opinions (schedule).
House File 2490 (status) is Governor Dayton's 2014 bonding bill has $1.1 million for greater Minnesota transit, whatever that is. It has $7 million study money & property salvage and seizure for the Orange Line rapid bus. There's a $5 million unspecific transportation economic development infrastructure program slush fund. The $6 million for Saint Paul's Palace Theater says the money can't be spent until an equal amount of non-state money could be found -- shouldn't most bonding items include that provision?
The Gateway Corridor is a needless east-metro transit plan to replace the existing express buses that already run successfully on I-94 (MetroTransit express 294, limited stop 350, express 351, express 353, express 355, express 375), using the shoulder to move around traffic instead of building a dedicated lane.
Despite years of taxpayer-funded studies and meetings, the Gateway Corridor Commission can't understand that the existing transit is the safest, most flexible, most efficient, and most economical transit for the East Metro. They also can't decide what type of vehicle they want (bus, train, or Transformer) or where they should put it.
What is the Gateway Corridor -- bus or train?
► Metro Council and Minnesota Department of Transportation have said that bus rapid transit in managed lanes should be considered for the Gateway Corridor, which might run eastward from Union Depot in St. Paul toward Wisconsin along Interstate 94. Buses would travel on existing pavement and leave the interstate to stop at transit stations. - Pioneer Press
► East metro citizens do not want light rail, according to signed petitions, open house meetings, and surveys taken by state representatives. "In a recent survey of her constituents, Rep. Andrea Kieffer, a Republican from Woodbury, [said] most don’t want light rail in the area. Rep. Kathy Lohmer said her survey had similar findings." - Woodbury Patch
► The Gateway Corridor settled on bus rapid transit in fall of 2012. The Minnesota Legislature voted in 2013 to allow Woodbury to create bus rapid transit. - Star Tribune
► Minneapolis-Saint Paul has the fastest U.S. metropolitan highways according to Texas A&M and Streets.MN. Here is a picture of weekday morning traffic on I-94 on the east side of Saint Paul.
Are they really wanting to put it on Hudson Road?
► Do they realize Hudson Road is residential in Saint Paul?
► Do they realize Hudson Road is a disconnected street? It stops and starts.
Is light rail safe? Is light rail good for business?
► Here is a list of light rail crashes and the causes (with news links)
► Here is a list of businesses impacted by the Central Corridor (with news links)
► The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) released a list of needed rail safety improvements in January 2014, including:
• Promote Operational & Developmental Safety in Rail Mass Transit - promote organizational safety culture, training safety, maintenance safety, address and reduce fatigue and human error, adopt close-call reporting systems, and promote operational safety through Federal Transit Administration (FTA) oversight, which should start at development. [html, pdf]
• Implement Positive Train Control Systems - monitor the location and movement of trains, then slow or stop a train that is not being operated in accordance with signal systems or operating rules. This safety redundancy prevents train-to-train collisions and overspeed derailments, as well as the associated injuries and fatalities to passengers, railway workers, and others. PTC systems are not a dream; they are in use on the Northeast Corridor in the Northeast United States and on the Michigan Line between Chicago, Illinois and Detroit, Michigan. [html, pdf]
► Minnesota has one rail safety inspector for the entire state. - Star Tribune, Minnesota law
Does the Gateway Corridor contribute to urban sprawl and the Wisconsin Reciprocity Tax Deficit?
► Younger families are moving to the Minneapolis urban core instead of Woodbury. - Star Tribune (chart)
► Wisconsin owes millions of tax dollars to Minnesota for its commuter residents. Gateway Corridor wants to increase Wisconsin's debt by providing transit for Wisconsin residents who work in Minnesota. Governor Walker agrees $60 million is owed to Minnesota but will only pay the bill if Wisconsin's employment situation improves. - WXOW-19 LaCrosse, Star Tribune (update)
► The Gateway Corridor will not cross the St. Croix River into Wisconsin. - Finance & Commerce
Has any money already been spent? Can't more money be flushed away?
► CH2M Hill (Englewood, CO) = $1.5 million (2011)
► Kimley Horn (Raleigh, NC) < $3 million (2013)
► Bus rapid transit would cost over $400 million. Light rail transit would cost over $1 billion.
Should 3M name all the stations on the Gateway Corridor (bus, train, plane)?
► Scotch® Magic Tape transit station
► Nexcare™ Steri-Strip™ Skin Closures for injured pedestrians
► Post-It® temporary transit station
► 3M™ Littmann® Stethoscopes station
► Imation™ Floppy Disk terminal (as modern as train technology)
- Star Tribune
The East Metro of Minneapolis-Saint Paul is a good place to live. Saint Paul's east side is a great place to live. It is not a gated community. It's diverse. It has no high profile destinations, no flashy museums or malls or casinos. It has the native Mounds Park, which is great and historic. It has the picturesque Lake Phalen. It has great bus and express bus service. It does not need or want a $1.2 billion light rail line to nowhere.