Region’s Number One Concern is Transportation?

RegionalTransportation.JPGIn today’s Strib South (February 5th) section there is an article titled “Region’s No. 1 Concern: Transportation”. It discusses the release of a recent survey at the Metropolitan Council’s State of the Region event.

Now, I’m not mentioning the Met Council just ’cause I’m hoping to get former Chamber President Ludescher to weigh in on this topic. However, I am hoping that perhaps current Chamber President Jeff Hasse may participate in the discussion about the prioritization of transportation as a key issue for our leaders.

The Chamber of Commerce has been crying in the wilderness for many years about transportation issues, particularly Highway 19. At the recent quarterly meeting of the Boards of Directors of the Chamber and the NDDC, this year’s strategy for advocacy was outlined. Of particular interest were the number of task forces, studies, and analyses related to transportation that were recently or are soon-to-be completed. Here’s my off-the-top-of-the-head list:

1. City of Northfield Transportation Plan
2. Northwest Quadrant Study (Dakota County?)
3. Comp Plan Transportation Chapter Revision
4. MNDoT Hwy 19 Access Management Study
5. Rice County County Road 1 (Task Force?)

With item #5, I’m hoping to entice Kathleen Doran-Norton to jump back into the discussion. However, I’m also thinking that there may be some other recent or current efforts that I’m not including. Please add them to the pile on the table.

I think it is everyone’s goal to turn these studies, recommendations, and analyses into action steps. What tasks, projects, or efforts should we be checking off our lists as completed by the end of 2008?

137 thoughts on “Region’s Number One Concern is Transportation?”

  1. The timeline on these projects averages 10 years or more. Although the success of the Hiawatha line has generated far more support, we’re still behind the Northstar line to St. Cloud (which is funded as far as Big Lake and will open in 2009), the midway line between Minneapolis and St. Paul, and probably a line to Duluth. It would be good to start work before other lines are proposed.
    The 40-mile Northstar line to Big Lake just got funded for about $250 million and serves and area with 600,000 people. It runs on existing track, making cost factors somewhat comparable to the Dan Patch.
    Now is the time to begin gathering data on how many drivers would be taken off the road, the cost of the service and how to partner with other cities. The Northstar group got a bus line as a test, and the huge ridership bolstered the efforts to win financing. Fighting for stronger bus service to Lakeville and Apple Valley might be the first step in proving demand for an extended bus route to Northfield. Perhaps Northfield Transit could run a route to the Apple Valley station to test — and build — interest here.
    The challenge for Northfield is that the other lines have a major population center at both ends. It will take a lot of lobbying to get a line beyond Lakeville, but even getting it that far would be a start.
    It’s an exciting possibility, and the timing seems favorable to begin the long journey.
    It might be good to start by looking at the Northstar site and studying how they put their effort together. http://www.mn-getonboard.org/

  2. Kathleen,
    Of course, regular folks are important, but there needs to be a really strong coalition that includes regular folks and government at all levels, a coalition that keeps the regular folks informed and mobilizes them when needed. Again, you can look at the Northstar website to see the history of one very effective coalition.

  3. I am excited about the renewed interest in the Dan Patch Line, and think it merits serious investigation. However, I have a concern that I haven’t seen expressed here yet: What might a commuter rail line from Northfield to Minneapolis mean in terms of the rate of residential/commercial growth in the community (and between here and Lakeville along the corridor)? Are we ready for explosive growth? Do we want it? Does the line make sense if the community doesn’t want to accept/promote rapid growth?

    Food for thought.

  4. Cty 23 and the NW Northfield Highway Study is mentioned in Al Roder’s Feb. 15 weekly memo:

    The project management team met on Thursday. Representatives from Dakota and Rice Counties, the Cities of Northfield and Dundas, Greenvale, Waterford, and Bridgewater townships, St. Olaf College, and MnDOT were in attendance. The PMT discussed the comments received from the open house that was held on Jan. 31, 2008. The group identified alignments of CSAH 23/43 to be studied. All alignments are being included for evaluation. At the next PMT meeting in March the group will develop advantages and disadvantages of the various alignments with the help of the consultant CH2M Hill. The alignments along with the advantages and disadvantages will be presented at the 2nd public open house to be held on May 1, 2008.

  5. OK, here’s me and my “Hell-Mutt” (if I were a kid now, oh, you wouldn’t catch me in a bicycle helmet, I know if I ever get a scooter it will be the end of me, but I cannot bear… what’s the point without wind in your hair and a good “biker’s do”???)

    Trying to catch up, and there’s SO MUCH!

    Rail has to happen, eliminate the individual vehicles, eliminate parking at destination… Dan Patch rail is needed, GO DAN PATCH, and there should be a lot that allows long term parking for those getting to the airport. If it went down to Faribault, it could make their lakes area Minnesota’s new hip resort destination! I’ve been flying around a lot, and whether here or there, it’s an hour to the airport and a pain, makes me long for life in “Prestigious East Phillips” and a good bus system. Houston is just getting into light rail, one 7 mile line, and like Mpls., it’s good, but not enough to be able to get around. One joy of the east coast is trains, in D.C. it’s so easy Flying out here to DE, for $10 I can hop on a train in Philly and be in Wilmington with one transfer and not too much trouble even loaded down like a pack mule (from Wilmington, or a bit further south, it’s hopeless, but…). From Red Wing to the metro, it’s an hour and there’s no way to do it, a rail line is needed, the Amtrack doesn’t work for commutes. It’s as much a problem up Chisago/Lindstrom/Taylors Falls way, we need spokes of light rail coming in. Great idea — a test bus or two going back and forth a couple times during rush hour, connecting with the southern Mpls. light rail stops, might work to get a feel for ridership.

    Around Northfield, there are some serious road problems. The idea of expanding 1 is one that drives me crazy, but as it is, 1 is not workable, with the hills and no shoulder, and I’ve seen bikes on there where visibility at 55 is not sufficient to slam on the brakes to avoid hitting them if they’re just below a hill I’ve crested, too scary, I don’t even drive on that road because of a too close call… another need – roads with shoulders like 3 going north, a safe biking road.

    And about that turn on Cedar going north, where it becomes 23, I see Griff mentions the County plan for that and surrounds, and it’s taken a long time for that to move forward? Moving the through traffic west is I think what’s they’re looking at, and it seems workable, with some tweaks. Is that county map online? I’ve got it, but it’s 1,200 miles away.

    David Henson has excellent points. People who don’t deal with trucks don’t think of them. About semis coming through town — there’s a distinction from Northfield as “on the map between 61 and 56 to and fro 35,” and trucks driving in Northfield to deliver and pickup. A route that doesn’t go through downtown would be good, there’s not a good way to get THROUGH town. But there’s not much in the way of deliveries, there’s Econofoods, the Co-op (in a past life, I worked for D.A.N.C.e and delivered to the coop when it was in the basement by the river), but I can’t think of much else in town where there’d be other than van or straight truck deliveries… now and then food service trucks are parked in the middle of Division, or a Bierman furniture delivery, the Domino’s truck. But most big truck traffic is going to the warehouse district. The idea of a hub with a pass through dock, a freight forwarder, could be useful. Most of the LTL (less than truckload) freight is broken down and being delivered on tiny trucks (pups, as we call them) that don’t really get in the way. So I think that the main issue is those big beautiful lit-up-like-a-Xmas-tree “large cars” passing through on 19, awkwardly making that tight right turn on Division & 2nd, then at Hwy 3, and again on 5th… is that right? Do keep in mind, when planning, that most everything you’ve got, it got here by truck… a truck friendly community is good for economic development. A rail hub? Yes, along the rail line in the warehouse district, increased use of rail in the warehouse district, but not the Doug Jones concept in an open field in Bridgewater! (that’s the one that came with various proposed noxious attachments like an ethanol plant, municipal waste transfer station, coal fly ash disposal – really, eeeeeuw, how much worse could it get?).

    This is an important discussion, holistic planning has to happen, because if you have the transportation infrastructure, they will come, and the type of infrastructure shapes what fills in, i.e., Hwy. 3 fills in with car driven businesses, a rail hub in open spaces would bring noxious facilities. A rail hub in a warehouse district would enable businesses, light rail would enable commuting both ways. Can infrastructure be built to minimize dependence on individual vehicles, support walking and bicycles, mass transit and planned freight movement? Yes!

  6. A big component would be if companies would set up for telecommuting jobs.
    About 90 % of my husband’s Information Technology work could be done from home. Companies are too afraid of getting hacked, even tho most of them have done a poor job of setting up proper security as it is, or that people might get too independent, which is a bunch of baloney, or just plain unfounded fear. My dh is a self starter, motivated and his work history shows that. He does have a part time job creating computer tests from home right now and has done that for over 9 years. That’s how far behind some of these companies are. People could go in for weekly meetings to
    keep the socialization going if they really have to, but we could save so much, just by having a room to work in, and a program that securely connects people to their mainframe computer. This is what you should be fighting for and it’s way cheaper than any other option.

    The big objection to public transportation for many people is the fact that once some one comes on board sick, everyone is open for getting sick, too.
    With the threat of bird flu and superbugs, people are gonna go with their
    survival instincts and take a chance on the weak infrastructure and poor drivers talking on their cell phones instead.

    Sure alot of people have to be on site, but I bet the traffic would be thinned out, so time would be lessened and a lot of things can come out of those two side effects.

  7. Regarding CSAH1 realignment. The “plan” that is promoted by Rice County would be a 4 lane super highway with limited access that would be unfriendly to bike traffic. Look into these plans–Katheleen Doran-Norton commented that we should abandon the “dusty” 30-year old plan for a bridge crossing at Jefferson in favor of a mega-highway plan (for something like 30 years in the future.)

    Rice county spent $100,000 on this “planning” without considering alternatives that would keep a mega-highway out of our cities and send the traffic around us instead of thru. I am continually disgusted by what is called “planning” because we pay a consultant. Planned destruction. We cannot afford the proposal for CSAH1 now and we won’t be able to afford it 10, 20, or 30 years from now. Nor is it a priority for spending limited transportation dollars. We need to start looking for practical solutions, including using existing right-of-ways rather than new roads and farm destruction.

    Because of different folks having different priorities, we look at some of the proposals differently. Some may think that a realignment of CSAH1 will result in a bike friendly road, while the county is focusing at moving trucks from the freeway into town, and really not thinking about accomodating bike riders.

    Long ago Wisconsin paved most of their country roads (I think it was a WPA project in the beginning.) This made Wisconsin attractive for bike riding as you could use the local, lesser used roads for bikes. We should be considering some of these types of solutions for recreational use, to separate bikes from frequent truck traffic.

    In the late 70s I would ride my bike from Faribault to Dundus/Northfield and back on Highway 3. I wouldn’t dare do that today, because of increased speeds in traffic and increased volumes, especially in semi trucks.

    We have an important truck route on Highway 19 that needs improvement–we need to set priorities in transportation and focus our meager funds on these. The CSAH1 realignment needs to be put on hold until a practical, realistic plan can be developed that does not include the destruction of farms, wetlands and city neighborhood in favor of a truck speedway.

  8. Jane –

    There’s a lot of common sense in your comment. In particular, I appreciate your suggestions about leveraging scarce resources, prioritizing key projects, and trying to get something done in the next ten years rather than waiting or hoping for something bigger and better in thirty years.

    However, it is your comments about Wisconsin that really triggered something deep in my mind. I lived in Wisconsin around ’81 to ’83. I had forgotten about its fairly casual bike-friendliness.

    I used to commute by bike, except in the Winter, from a farm in Dane, right next to the Lodi border, to my job in Madison, about 25 miles each way, every day. You’re right, I could take lesser used roads, with ample shoulders, for my commute.

    In fact, my friends and I used to go bar-hopping by bike. Then again, it was Wisconsin, and the “hops” were pretty short.

    Thanks much,

    Ross

  9. Griff – Jane mentions consultants in her post and the issue of consultants seems to come up over and over again in discussions of Northfield policy. Maybe a section could be devoted to the issue of consultants, what they are currently used for, how much is spent on them, etc. One would think Northfield should be hiring consultants for expertise in ‘how to accomplish something Northfielders want’ rather than, as often seems to be the case, for ‘direction in what Northfielders should want’.

  10. David H. – Consultants should be telling us what Northfield needs, not what Northfield wants, or should want. The Chamber believes that Northfield and Dundas need Highways 19 and 1 to be upgraded to accommodate higher volumes of traffic. Accommodations on these roads for non-motorized transportation increases the costs, takes more land, serves little utility, and makes it more likely that we will get neither upgraded roads nor non-motorized transportation.

  11. David,

    Paved shoulders on Hwys 19 and 1 have utility for both motorized and nonmotorized traffic. They provide a usable lane for nonmotorized traffic, a safety outlet for motorized traffic, and they stabilize the entire roadway. See this online document, “22 Reasons for Paved Highway Shoulders”:

    http://www.bicyclinglife.com/EffectiveAdvocacy/22reasons.htm

    I think the Chamber will get what it wants with regard to Highway 19. What stands in the way of the Chamber’s goals is not the work of nonmotorized advocates, it’s the lack of state resources available for transportation. Now we need lawmakers to vote as recommended by the Minn. Chamber of Commerce on the state transportation bill.

  12. What I think Minnesota needs is a bicycle tax to help pay for all these non-motorized road improvements. Cars and trucks pay a lot of money through the gas taxes dedicated to roads and bridges. Why should the bicycle riders not pay some kind of license tax that would help pay for some of the lanes and shoulders that bikers want?

  13. Larry, even though I can see where you’re coming from, I think the state would be mistaken in adding roadblocks to nonmotorized transportation of any type. People should be encouraged to do this, not discouraged!

  14. I for one would be more than happy to pay an appropriate bike fee/tax/whatever-you-want-to-call-it to help pay for nonmotorized transportation infrastructure. The cost of the kinds of things we’re talking about (striped and signed on-road bike lanes and shared-lane signed bike routes, for example) are extremely modest compared to the mondo costs of general roadway improvements/construction. The wear and tear on infrastructure imposed by my 18-pound bike is pretty modest compared to the wear and tear imposed by my 2,886-pound car, not to mention that caused by 6,000-pound-plus SUVs and semis.

    I happily pay the modest Minnesota fuel tax (no change since 1988, not even inflation indexing, which would have turned 1988’s $.20 into $.36 today…) on the diesel fuel I put in my car, and the annual registration fee. I hope Governor Pawlenty’s Friday veto of the proposed piddly nickel increase (followed by 3.5 cents in the future) is overridden pronto. I think we should all pay a LOT more fuel tax to pay for the infrastructure cars and trucks need, not to mention to help pay for the external costs of burning gasoline and diesel fuel and gobbling up prime land for transportation infrastructure. You can’t expect to get something for nothing, a concept that no-new-taxes advocates seem reluctant to admit. More efficient use of government resources can only be carried so far. At some point we need to pony up for the public goods we all want and need. If we want bikers to pony up (in an appropriately minor way), I say fine.

  15. I agree with Bruce. I would not mind a tax or fee on bikes. But the gas tax should be a priority. It seems to have support from almost everyone except the Governor. Former Sen. Neuville actually supported a gas tax higher than what the DFL has passed.

    What bothers me in these discussions is the motorized transportation should be heavily subsidized by all taxpayers and only non-motorized transportation should not. Tax the bikers from Larry, don’t spend a dime on it from David L. But build more, bigger highways without a gas tax to help pay for it. We can only bond our way so far.

    I agree with Bill, bikers are not the problem here. Proper funding methods are. Add shoulders and turn lanes and you’ve made 19 much safer for cars and trucks. And yes, bikers will benefit too. But, you have not added any cost to the project. Imagine trying to change a driver side flat tire on Hwy 19 now. You are a hazard to everyone on the road. Add a shoulder and you have solved a problem.

    If you don’t like the gas tax, drive less. It is an option.

    David L, what is the Northfield Chamber’s position on a gas tax?

  16. Larry and others,

    I’m not philosophically opposed to a bike tax if the money goes into bike infrastructure.

    On the issue of the gas tax: correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe the gas tax does not pay for all of our road building and maintenance needs. The transportation behemoth requires other state and local funds, all of which come from taxpayers. Thus, a taxpaying cyclist or pedestrian who doesn’t own a car is subsidizing the road system (and a transit system or any other transportation system that the govt. funds). I believe this fact is not widely known.

    Way back in 1971 Oregon passed the “bike bill,” which requires state, county and local government to spend at least 1 percent of state highway funds on bike and pedestrian facilities (with some exceptions for rural areas where such facilities would get little use). This is one reason why Oregon has a lot of pedestrian and bike infrastructure.

    Here is a paragraph on the bill from the Oregon DOT:

    “ORS 366.514, aka the bike bill, was passed by the Oregon Legislature in 1971. It requires the inclusion of facilities for pedestrians and bicyclists wherever a road, street or highway is built or rebuilt. It applies to ODOT, cities and counties. It also requires ODOT, cities and counties to spend reasonable amounts of their share of the state highway fund on facilities for pedestrians and bicyclists. These facilities must be located within the right-of-way of public roads, streets or highways open to motor vehicle traffic. The funds cannot be spent on trails in parks or other areas outside of a road, street or highway right-of-way. ”

    http://www.oregon.gov/ODOT/HWY/BIKEPED/bike_bill.shtml

  17. Bill… I just spent 2 days in Eugene Oregon and am now in Santa Fe, New Mexico. There are bike lanes on every street. It is cold, there is snow on the ground and there are still bikers. The lanes have dotted lines where a car can cross the bike lane…. but it is against the law to move accross or into the bike lane at any other point. These broken crossover markings occur mostly at intersections.

    Even the smallest streets have lanes and the large traffic moving streets have lanes on both sides of the street and are clearly marked. The bike lanes turn corners at the lights in an arc just like car lanes do. They are marked as well. It seems that both these cities have done a good job of incorporating all modes of transportation into the street scape.

  18. David L makes some good comments in #95 and #111. We must create a comprehensive plan that addresses business needs, including trucks. Trucks will continue to be a vital part of our business world. We also need to figure out reasonable places for them to park overnight if indpendent haulers are going to land here late at night…is next to the dog park really the best place?

    Consultants should tell us what we need, not necessarily what we want. However, I contend that we have enough brain power in this town to skip most of the consultant work and figure out on our own what we need to do.

    PS. Ripon College in Wisconsin…where I attended for 2 years…is now giving away high quality bikes to their students if they do not bring a vehicle with them to college. The town is similar to Northfield in that students do not need a vehicle to get around…but do need some form of transportation to get to surrounding cities.

    PPS. There was a letter in the Strib today or yesterday noting that the Dan Patch effort is simply an effort to create tax payer supported systems to allow people that elect to live in outlying areas a way to travel fast, cheaply and on the taxpayers nickel to metro areas. It argues a better plan is to have these people move to the metro area closer to their work.

  19. Ray: Thanks for the nice summary of transportation issues.

    Trucks are vitally important to commerce; Highways 19 and 1 are the most important truck routes in need of improvement. That is why these transportation issues are the Chamber’s highest concerns.

    Ross: I suggested when you were working on the Development Principles that you just adopt the NIC report as the chapter for Transportation.

  20. It’s perhaps missing the point to complain about the expense for non-motorized vehicles (bikes): For every local resident who uses a bike instead of a car to go shopping, it’s less wear and tear on subsidized roads. Bikes are good for exercise and health, and healthy people are good for the economy (tho’ perhaps not as directly helpful for HMO profits). I agree with those who observe that we should encourage bike use, not discourage it.

    And yes, Dan Patch may be subsidized transportation, but so are roads. Yet mass transit can be far greener than a bunch of SUV’s, usually with a single driver and no passenger.

    And who is going to encourage local residents, who came here for the schools and quality of life, to move to the Cities? Who will evict them so we might avoid having to build Dan Patch? It may not be as ideal as living closer to where they work, but if they’re going to commute anyway, Dan Patch is a far better option.

    And Northfield is part bedroom community, like it or not, so why chase away part of the tax base and further hurt the local real-estate market by driving residents away? Makes no sense. Who is going to move to the Twin Cities or suburbs and serve on the school boards, and do the needed kinds of urban planning, to convince those folks who would otherwise rather live here and ride Dan Patch that they would do just as well to get themselves out of town and live near where they work? Where is the glut of housing in the Cities and Suburbs, close to where they work, ready to handle them?

    We already subsidize gasoline in a huge way. Wars with oil-rich countries are one way. We’re still paying for overthrowing Iran’s government in the 1950’s.

    Our dependence on foreign oil is also a huge part of our trade deficit. The technology is available for more locally-generated renewable energy, and for electric-cars and electric-powered public transportation. These would inject huge funds into local economies. The Chamber should love the idea. Keeping more energy dollars local would mean more money for local businesses….

    Some estimate the extra costs for gas, above and beyond what we pay at the pump, to be between $1.50 and $4.15 a gallon. Some estimate more than that.

    We need more public transportation options like Dan Patch, not more dependence on autos.

  21. Otherwise, you could take it all in the other direction: You privatize everything. Make Hwy 3, Cedar, Hwy 19, etc., all toll roads. Privatize them, like black-box voting and private security for the military. Privatize the public libraries, sewage treatment, drinking water, the post office. Privatize schools (ala New Orleans charter schools, post-Katrina). Privatize elections and politicians via campaign contributions, lobbyists and advertiser-driven major media (oops, already done).

    Privatize Bridge Square (charge an entrance fee). Make all our bridges toll bridges.

    It’s the hot new thing. There’s nothing governments do for the common good that private corporations couldn’t do for a fee, and make a nice profit.

    Who needs government by the people, for the people, if we could have government for private profit?

    That’s the other transportation fix. And hey, they’re doing it in France. After a toll-road or toll-bridge is paid for, the government gets it back. It could be so European of us.

    You could charge the bikers too. No one would get over the toll-bridges and toll-roads for free. It would be un-American. How could the Chamber complain then? A Chamber member could be the company collecting the tolls!

    It could be the transportation plan of Dick Cheney’s wildest dreams! Right here in Rice County! He wouldn’t even have to come here to shoot anyone in the face to achieve it: Privatization could do that metaphorically to the poor, while Dick was safe, miles away!

    If we really want to be forward-looking, maybe we should look into privatization as the transportation plan of the future. Taxpayers would still pay substantial amounts, but a small number of very rich people could profit greatly, and we’d still have tolls to pay on top of all that.

    If it’s coming anyway, maybe Northfield could volunteer to be the first?

  22. Paul – seems to me you’re conflating capitalism and democracy, and it’s NOT the same, you know that! Your example of returning the toll roads to the government after they were paid for reminded me of transmission, where as ratepayers, WE’RE paying for the infrastructure, but we don’t ever get to own it or profit from it. The CapX line through Scott, Rice/Dakota county, that is part of a three line web that is estimated at $1.7 billion, yes, billion, and we’re not going to own it or pay for it. With the roads, light rail, transmission, all this necessary infrastructure, we need to assure that we get what we want and need, and that we get what we pay for. If it’s not ours, we shouldn’t be paying for it! What a concept! Delaware’s a weird place, yes, corporate haven, but it took DuPont to build the “public” schools, the state wouldn’t, and it took DuPont to build the major highway up and down the state, Route 13, the “DuPont Highway” of course, private money because the state didn’t see a need (duPont being one of the slimiest companies, starting with gun power, moving into chemicals, and now a major polluter, so they’ve left a mixed footprint, some very good and some horrendous). When the state did build a road, what did it do? A toll road parallel to 13 and crossing back and forth, wiping out wetlands that they couldn’t afford to lose. Delaware is the extreme, but this talk of toll roads reminds me of where Minnesota does not want to be… toll roads are as regressive a tax as is possible, right up there with food, clothing, gas and sales tax. Truck fuel tax is calculated on what roads are used, and it’s a bit different because it’s a business profiting from their enterprise, similar to rental property taxes being higher, and I’d like to see a dedicated transit tax added to gas, a sliding scale based on mileage, the less mileage you get and the more you drive, the more you pay. A few thoughts on the way to pay $1.50 on the toll road to get dog food…

  23. Thanks, Curt, for that lnk. I typically refer to them as “The Chamber Pot” but their strong, articulate and EFFECTIVE position against Excelsior Energy’s Mesaba Project has been a large factor in the ALJ’s recommendation against Mesaba. Here’s another good deed of the Chamber, and like Nick Coleman says, it’s almost enough to make even me join! You can send them a thank you at:

    David Olson – President (651) 292-4655 dolson@mnchamber.com

    Bill Blazar (651) 292-4658 bblazar@mnchamber.com
    Senior Vice President, Public Affairs & Business Development

    And remember to send a big thank you to the R’s who voted for the veto override. I sent that you note the second I heard!!! They could use some support.

  24. I’ve seen no mention in any of the comments or reports in this discussion thread of one of the most significant roadway safety and efficient-traffic-flow enhancing features that other communities around Minnesota and the nation are now embracing: roundabouts. There is a story on roundabouts in today’s Strib (“Neighbors worry, but experts back roundabout for Savage; http://www.startribune.com/local/south/15922602.html).

    I’ve been an advocate of roundabouts for years, and have blogged about them a couple of times, including today (Roundabouts redux; http://www.sustainablecommunitysolutions.com/index.php/2008/02/27/roundabouts-redux/).

    Please, when designing the Northfield area roadway infrastructure of the 21st-century, let’s not build 20th-century major intersections with four-way stop signs or traffic lights. Let’s choose the efficient, smart approach that’s been proven in innumerable international studies to be safer and allows more efficient and smoother, faster flow of traffic: roundabouts. Pretty please!

  25. I was pleased to see the gas tax pass. I can’t believe the Governor’s response and the action taken against the Republicans who voted to override the veto. The 8 Republicans could lose their leadership positions and party backing in the fall elections.

    The gas tax had the support from the State Chamber of Commerce, the Dems and many Republicans including former Sen. Neuville, who said it should be larger, and, at one time, the Governor. Why did the Pawlenty change his mind? It seems to me the gas tax fits in with Pawlenty’s support of user fees to raise revenue. If you don’t want to pay the tax, then drive less or drive a car that gets better mileage.

  26. Yo, Carol! You write, “seems to me you’re conflating capitalism and democracy, and it’s NOT the same, you know that!”

    Well, I’m not so sure with all the privatization going on–prisons, military, etc. Instead of tax dollars going to the gubmit, increasingly we have them going to corporations. Huge subsidies go to corporate farms, and then we dump grain on little countries and ruin their agricultural economies, so they can’t pay their debts. Capitalism is winning, democracy is losing.

    Transportation: In the days of the founding fathers, landowners had private roads, and some charged tolls for people crossing their land. With the real estate bubble bursting, I figure the US could become more like Central and South America, with a small minority of land-owners. They could all have toll roads and make a killing.

    Not literally. I’m not in favor of disappearing people, like in Chile or Nicaragua. Or at least not some people. Ya gotta draw the line somewheres.

    But just think: If all the roads around Northfield were toll-roads, then citizens and businesses would not complain about taxes and assessments!

    The Gubmit could even require that the toll-roads include Roundabouts (keep Bruce Anderson happy).

    They could charge a reduced rate for school buses and kids walking to school on the sidewalks built along the toll-roads.

    Think how much our property taxes could go down if we were paying for all our roads via tolls! Reduce my taxes by 20% and raise my transportation costs by 400%, just to give me the illusion that it’s a good reform. It could work.

    I appreciate that you’re one of those people, Carol, who still thinks public roads and utilities should be for the public, but I think that’s soooo 20th century. In the years to come, it may all be about profits.

    “Democracy!” may be the sit-com we watch, like Hogan’s Heroes reruns.

    I’m not saying it’s a sure thing. But I’m bracing myself for the possibility.

  27. Robbie, thanks for letting us know about Eugene and Santa Fe (in comment 119). I was in Portland and Bend, OR, and Vancouver, WA, last summer and saw many of the same things.

    I highly recommend the web site streetfilms.org, which has video of street infrastructure in many cities around the world. StreetFilms is a non-profit in New York City, part of the “New York City Streets Renaissance,” which includes the Project for Public Spaces and Transportation Alternatives. The latter is run by Paul Steely White, who has conections to Northfield (he is Dan Bergeson’s son-in-law, I believe).

    I’ve seen three “streetfilms,” all about 8 minutes long:

    “Physically Separated Bike Lanes”:
    a somewhat contentious subject, but when Steve Clark of Transit for Livable Communities was here, he recommended something like this for Division St.
    http://www.streetfilms.org/archives/physically-separated-bike-lanes/

    “Ciclovia: Bogota, Colombia”
    Bogota, Colombia, closes off selected streets/highways for Sunday morning use by folks; an amazing video
    http://www.streetfilms.org/archives/ciclovia/

    “Davis, California: Adventures in a Platinum Bike City”
    Hard to believe this place is in the U.S.
    http://www.streetfilms.org/archives/adventures-in-a-platinum-bike-city-davis-calif/

    The Internet truly makes it easier to share and see good ideas.

    Davis, California

  28. The City of Davis has also enhanced it’s ability to attract businesses by offering a unique and appealing alternative to vanilla development concepts.

  29. Maybe this bike thing has legs: 1/25/08 ‘ The nation may be facing an economic downturn, but in Davis things don’t look so bad.

    Digital Technology Laboratory Corp., a high-tech machine tool research firm, received the Davis Planning Commission’s approval to begin construction on a new headquarters in East Davis …..

    “We’re kind of growing up as a company and we’re thinking about what image we want to portray,” he said. “The city of Davis has a unique image of being an intellectual city, a progressive-thinking city and so we thought that fits our philosophy of how we run our business.”

    The new building will be approximately 70,000 square feet and includes a large glass panel entryway to maximize natural sunlight, a landscaped inner atrium and an outdoor rear patio. The site will also include indoor and outdoor bike parking and frontage and road improvements.’

    Full Article: http://media.www.californiaaggie.com/media/storage/paper981/news/2008/01/25/CityNews/HighTech.Employer.Moving.To.Davis-3168107.shtml

  30. I wish I’d come across this conversation sooner. Griff just directed me here. The Northfield Transit does offer shuttle service to the Big Steer. These are the details last time I checked into it. The Northfield Transit will go out there once per day in the morning, and once in the afternoon. You must call ahead. It costs $4.00. From there, you can connect to Jefferson Lines. A Round-trip ticket from the Big Steer to Apple Valley and Back costs $22.00. I wrote David Bly about 2 years ago and I communicated to him about the need for a method of transit to either the Burnsville Transit Center or Apple Valley. Once a person gets to either one, they can use either the Metro Transit, or Minnesota Valley Transit, each connects with the other and one can transfer from one to the other. When I lived in Brooklyn Park I used metro transit frequently and really really really miss the freedom public transit/24-7 service/scheduled routes provide. Also I have family in Lakeville and a good friend in Burnsville. It’d be nice if they didn’t always have to be the one’s to drive to see me. As for Anne Bretts’ comment, good idea. When I first moved here, I had the idea of one bus that goes through New Prague, Lakeville, Faribault, Dundas, and then drops everyone off at Apple Valley or Burnsville, once in the morning and once at night, at minimum ( I don’t know if a route like that would ever work well or not. I lived on the Central Coast of California for a short time, near San Luis Obispo, they had the CCAT, Central Coast Area Transit, which went through Atascadero, San Luis, Paso Robles, Pismo Beach, and other I don’t remember. Those were more heavily populated areas though. okay, got a link: http://www.slorta.org/schedules.htm And the CCAT used a punch pass, which is a good way for the rider to not have to worry about exact change, and the transit authority can sell them at cost with no discount if desired. I think here in nfld only kids can get season passes?) I didn’t know much yet about Northfield or the area at that point; I never communicated that idea to anyone. David, as most people know, made an honest attempt to resurrect the Dan Patch line, and I’m sure it’s still something on his agenda. Sorry for the rushed post, hopefully I got everything across okay. I’d like to continue this discussion, and I’m sure I will, but I won’t have Internet at home soon, so I won’t be checking for messages every day.

  31. More Transit Options Needed
    By Andy Alt

    July 27, 2008 – Sunday morning at 12:10am, I began a mile hike to Cub Foods to buy some groceries. Walking at night causes me to become nervous sometimes, however, my tension increased when I met a stray dog of unknown acquaintance a mere two minutes after my departure from home. The details I’ll omit; I wasn’t harmed, and I apologize to the driver who had little time to see me running back across the street, heading for home. I called Northfield’s Finest, and after a search they couldn’t find the dog. As for my shopping, I paid a taxi.

    Normally I utilize the Northfield Transit when I shop, but, regrettably, they don’t have a 24/7 schedule. I’d like that to change, and include at least two regularly scheduled routes during the day and one during off-peak hours.

    Firstly, expanded transit would give more options to minors, parents, people in general, senior and disabled citizens. I’ll disclose that I fall into the disabled category. Physically, I’m 35 and fit – the disability is mostly due to clinical depression (for those who don’t believe in depression, call me lazy, but afterward think of the other people I mentioned). Consumers of alcoholic beverages would also have more choices.

    Secondly, many events in our community occur after 4pm. Reasons not to walk or bike outside of the Transit hours include the following: Dark, rain, hail, ultraviolet rays, and other inclement weather or atmospheric conditions. Having the ability to travel or get groceries only part-time feels very crippling for those who don’t own a car or can’t drive.

    Thirdly, more than half the times I ride the bus, I am the sole passenger. Taxes are the source of funding for the Northfield Transit, and having only one or a few passengers denies the financial advantages to mass transit. If a regularly scheduled 24/7 route were promoted well in advance of its implementation, it could begin with several riders, not just a few. We could start with a small number of bus stops, and build on that after an increase in ridership and promotion. With energy costs rising (not just in dollars, but also cost to the environment and the geopolitical landscape), now would be an excellent time to step into modern times and start packing the Northfield buses full of people.

    As for my experience with the Northfield Transit in the three years I’ve lived here: I believe the fare of one dollar to travel a mile is reasonable (beats paying for insurance, gas, car repairs, or risking an accident), the drivers are helpful, friendly and well-trained, and Leann’s scheduling is artistic. Proportionately, any problems I’ve had with them are well within range of being acceptable and never caused me any long-term mental anguish.

    I hope the city council members, community members, taxpayers and city staff will consider the benefits of mass transit, public transportation, energy conservation, and oxygen. I also hope the dog I encountered found his way home.

  32. Blake Hansen, Sarah Prather, and Julia Reid will be holding a presentation on Transportation in Northfield: A Preliminary Assessment of Current Transportation Needs. The presentation will be held at 3:30 – 5:00 PM Friday, November 21st in Willis Hall, room 203 on Carleton’s campus. After the students present their findings, they will facilitate discussion on the problems and possible solutions related to transportation in Northfield. This discussion will be open to anyone who would like to attend. Please email prathers@carleton.edu with any questions.

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