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?


  1. Bill Ostrem said:

    Ross, are not #1 and #3 in your list the same thing? That is, won’t the city Transportation Plan become the Transportation Chapter in the Comp Plan?

    February 6, 2008
  2. Bill Ostrem said:

    Also, the Northfield Parks and Trails plan has transportation components to it, including sidewalks and on-street bikeways. Perhaps this should be added to your list.

    February 6, 2008
  3. Ross Currier said:


    First off, get a gravatar, preferably one with you wearing a bike helmet. It’s disconcerting for me to see you as a cabbagehead.

    Second, the Transportation Plan will be one of the inputs, admittedly a rather significant one, that will be included in the Planning Commission’s thoughtful and wise crafting of the Transportation Chapter. We would also be very open to comments from, say, the Chamber of Commerce, the Non-Motorized Transportation Task Force, the EDA, or anyone else who feels so strongly about the topic that they would show up for the meeting.

    Thanks much,


    February 6, 2008
  4. BruceWMorlan said:


    I am surprised you did not mention the joint efforts of the three local planning commissions to set up a joint task force to provide a single transportation plan for the Northfield-Dundas-Bridgewater area. All three of the planning commissions are working to put in front of their respective government units Resolutions calling for the formation of a joint powers task force to address the area’s big transportation concerns through a single combined effort. This is designed to put the results of the recent CSAH1 Corridor study ($100K spent to get a consensus), along with other issues you raised, into a combined plan that all three planning commissions could then put into their respective comprehensive plans.

    Because all three comprehensive plans emphasize non-motorized transport, we have also invited the Northfield Nonmotorized Task Force to join in, and the Bridgewater resolution expands the scope even further to include other nearby interested parties.

    This single joint effort will replace the old system, where each organization plots and schemes in pizza and smoke filled rooms to build their own plans, then they get together in public with scissors and tape to try to fit all the plans together. At least part of the objective was to reduce the churn and burn of taxpayer’s assets that a disjointed planning process gives us.

    February 6, 2008
  5. John S. Thomas said:

    This is all fine and good, but where is the plan to connect Northfield to the rest of the world? 😎

    There are many people that commute TO Northfield from the cities, as well as many that commute to the cities. These folks are basically on their own to find methods to do so. There are no buses, no transit, no efficient manner (other than our 10 person vanpool) to get his done.

    The foundation we are laying is fantastic, but we need to take it to the next level, and begin a county transit plan to connect Northfield and the rest of the county, as well as expanding the regional aspects controlled by the met council to greater than the seven county metro area. Currently our vanpool meets and starts in a lot just inside Dakota county. It would be nice to see the city/county get involved and work with the met council and others to bring more transit alternatives to Northfield.

    We can spend the next 10-15 years talking about building and expanding roads for vehicles that no one will be able to afford to operate as the oil runs out… or we can formulate plans to move people to where they want to go more efficiently.

    I see so many single occupant cars and trucks on my way to work, originating in Northfield. If these folks could just get together, and get two people to a vehicle, it would make such a difference.

    Site’s such as NuRide ( and Metro Transit’s Rideshare site ( are a start, but we need to do something at a local level to enhance ride sharing.

    We will be getting a nice commuter center at the trail head behind Walgreens soon. We need to develop local programs to make it more efficient, and utilized.

    Pooling, and mass transit, is an easier, low cost solution to effect immediate improvements. The powers that be should be aggressively looking at ways to get this done.

    Thank you for your time, and your environmental responsibility…

    February 6, 2008
  6. Jerry Bilek said:

    Ross says to Bill:

    “First off, get a gravatar, preferably one with you wearing a bike helmet. It’s disconcerting for me to see you as a cabbagehead.”

    Ask and you shall receive Ross, a helmutted Bill. I guess I’ll put my helmut on. Bruce, Bruce, join the crowd. Any other helmut heads out there? I feel a transportation revolution coming on.

    A link to a really cool helmut:

    maybe it’s the genius beneath the helmut that I admire.

    February 6, 2008
  7. John George said:

    The idea of shared transportation is just fine as long as you have close proximity of destination and similar working hours. I work in Lakeville, which I’m sure others do, also. But I haven’t heard of anyone working from 8:30 am to 9:00 pm, Wed., Thur., Fri. & Sat. I’d be delighted to meet someone and share rides with them if they work around these hours. This seems to be the greatest problem with public transportation from Northfield to the Twin Cities- trying to fit destination and work hours together. Anyone with a good idea could maybe start a cottage (carriage?) industry.

    February 6, 2008
  8. Ross Currier said:

    Hey Bruce:

    I guess the message here is that unless you’ve (the Three Musketeers, excuse me, Planning Chairs) have spent $100,000 on consultant-generated report, it’s hard to get taken seriously. Otherwise you’re potentially dismissed as three guys filling a room with smoke from a joint task force, developing the munchies for some pizza.

    Seriously, I sincerely and fervently hope that you and John (Klockeman) will be able to attend the Northfield Planning Commission meeting at which we discuss transportation issues. Just ask the Northfield EQC, we’re genuinely open to input from all interested parties.


    February 6, 2008
  9. Jerry (comment #6) has thrown the gauntlet down. It’s time for the nonmotorized transportation revolution to begin! Helmet heads unite!

    By the way, although biking and walking are the environmentally preferable ways to get around town, the primary reasons I ride a bike are because it is FUN and it keeps the bad chemicals (mostly) out of my head. The reason I wear a helmet is to keep my brain inside my head. If you ride and don’t wear a helmet, STOP IT! I had an accident a little over a year ago that left me with a cracked helmet and a concussion. If I hadn’t been wearing my helmet, I’m quite sure I’d be drooling on my bib right now instead of typing this missive. And you, dear insurance premium-payer and taxpayer, would be paying for it.

    I know that I’ll p!*% off all sorts of folks by saying it, and I know that it isn’t always possible to live near where you work, especially if you live in a two-earner household, but… the best way to solve the getting-to-work-in-a low-environmental-impact-manner dilemma is to live as close to work as possible. Transportation planning should include taking every step possible to ensure that future development of the community is compact, that it is possible to safely walk and/or bike anywhere you need to go in the community, and that mixed-use development be not only allowed, but encouraged.

    February 6, 2008
  10. John S. Thomas said:

    If the powers that be, can bring a technology business to Northfield, that will support the pay and benefits that I now receive, I will be the first in line to apply.

    As it stands, I have the technology and bandwidth that I need to work from home, and I do so as often as I can. But alas, there are meetings that must be attended, so I have to be in the cities.

    Close to home works, if the jobs are there.

    I would also present this… You have a large amount of folks that work at the colleges, but live in the cities. How would you develop the amenities to draw them to live in Northfield / Dundas / Bridgewater metropolitan area instead of reverse commuting to and from the cites?

    I would love to see Northfield develop a virtual office center, where one could go, and “rent” a cube and a VOIP phone for a day. It would have conference rooms with video conference ability. This could start with an unused office space downtown, with say…6 cubes?

    One then could escape the challenges/distractions of the home office, while still not having to commute to the cities.

    February 6, 2008
  11. Anne Bretts said:

    There is a serious demand for commuting options in the south metro. The Apple Valley transit center is so overwhelmed that officials recently bought the Watson’s store on Cedar Avenue just to add the parking capacity to the center. It was nearly full the first day it was available, as I recall. There is serious talk of more bus transit on the Cedar Avenue corridor and the Dan Patch revival debate is getting louder and louder.
    It seems Northfield has to reach out and work on regional transportation initiatives to leverage the relatively small population (vote total) it brings to the table.
    As for business moving here…the city and property owners have to get the property inventory “staged” to attract businesses and then get the word out to the brokers who will help bring the buyers/tenants. (The Upper Lakes deal happened because Welsh represented both the buyer and seller and had an incentive to close a deal, not because Northfield is a cute town, although that helped.)
    We need to do research into what other communities are offering and who they’re attracting and really start tailoring new business parks and other efforts to fit what the market wants.
    One real key is that the progress in growth usually is residential, then retail, then office…executives and workers are drawn to an area, the services develop, and as they become more connected to the town they bring their businesses along. This means making newcomers feel welcome, helping them feel connected and appreciated and encouraging them to bring their businesses here.
    As for dense mixed use, this is very risky and so far has had only marginal success even in urban core areas. Small town projects are dying, with some condos being converted to assisted living and senior care centers. They may come into their own over time, but it will be a long wait.
    Again, we need to really research what’s out there and what will work within the context of Northfield’s heritage and potential.

    February 6, 2008
  12. john george said:

    John T.- Your comment, “Close to home works if the jobs are there,” is one of the most accurate statements I’ve seen in a while.

    Bruce- I appreciate your idealism, but I don’t think it fits reality, especially in my profession. Since our society has moved from an agrarian economy to an industrial economy, mobility has been imposed upon us, like it or not. Until someone can develope a mass transportation system that addresses every individual’s needs and solves them, we are going to continue to see increased levels of commuting. I’m sorry, but a bicycle does not even begin to address my transportation needs. And I’m not saying that just to p!*% you off.

    February 6, 2008
  13. Tracy Davis said:

    Anne, your assumption that “… key is that the progress in growth usually is residential, then retail, then office…executives and workers are drawn to an area, the services develop, and as they become more connected to the town they bring their businesses along” is the typical American suburban formula, but it isn’t the only formula, and certainly not the best one for every community. That particular approach has huge ecological, sociological, and even long-term economic downsides.

    Bruce Anderson is right when he says part of the transportation fix is for people to live closer to where they work, or vice-versa. That’s just common sense, but we’re so used to NOT thinking that way that it seems like an anomaly. Since most people don’t want to live in a downtown skyscraper or in a suburban industrial park, they’re not likely to move closer to their jobs. How about trying to build jobs closer to where we live?

    Over the past ten to fifteen years, small businesses of less than 20 employees have been the source of forty to seventy percent of net new jobs created every year. There are dueling statistics, but it’s clear that small businesses are a job-growth engine. We don’t have to lure the next Microsoft to Northfield; we’re better suited to encouraging the small-business sector, which is more compatible with our existing strengths and infrastructure.

    John Thomas – come on, catch the vision! Quit your job and develop a consulting business based in Northfield. You could be the first regular tenant of the new virtual office center and I can give you the names of a bunch more people in a similar situation. It’s the new economic frontier, and we need pioneers. Who says adventure is dead?

    So as I sit here in the little padded room I’m placed in whenever my visionary tendencies threaten to break out of control, it occurs to me again that transportation is a very large subject with a ton of implications. And transportation isn’t (or shouldn’t be) shorthand for “roads”; it’s sidewalks, bike paths, and mass transit too. And as most good traffic engineers know, you don’t solve traffic problems just by building wider roads, so we need to look elsewhere for solutions. I’m enjoying the brainstorming that’s going on in this thread.

    February 7, 2008
  14. Anne Bretts said:

    I’m not saying the scenario I mentioned is the only way, it’s just the usual way, and the way that small towns throughout the area are rebuilding themselves.
    Even here, people move to Northfield, then find a way to work here…so I’m just pointing out that commuters are your best business recruiting prospects.
    I’m trying to understand what the strategy is now, and how well it’s working.

    February 7, 2008
  15. Bill Ostrem said:

    I thought I’d throw in a few comments about sidewalks and shared-use paths:

    The reading I’ve been doing lately about health problems from physical inactivity leads me to this conclusion, among others:

    Even if employees get to their workplace in a car, it is beneficial for them to have access to walkways and even bikeways during the workday. This way an employee can get out and take a walk or a run or a bike ride for a break and get some exercise. Or they can walk to lunch or to a neighboring business. I worked at a corporation in New Jersey that had its own road network as well as unpaved trails on its campus . These got heavy use by walkers, esp. at lunch time.

    My goal is to have Northfield-area businesses see that a physically active work force is to their own benefit and to have them lobby not only for good roads but also for walkways and bikeways to their businesses.

    Some places where the sidewalk network is lacking in Northfield: along Highway 19 to Three Links and Engage Print and McLane; along Highway 3 to Northfield Montessori.

    If a business campus is developed in town, I would hope it would have sidewalk and path access for the reasons I’m describing – health and business reasons as well as transportation reasons.

    See the National Business Group on Health, whose members include over 60 Fortune 100 companies, for more on this kind of thing:

    February 7, 2008
  16. Patrick Enders said:

    When I lived in Madison, Wisconsin, it was fairly easy for me to use my bicycle to get to and from work at the hospital. Similarly, I lived a block from the hospital where I worked in Rochester, Minnesota. Again, it was easy to walk to work, and from there I was able to catch shuttle buses to some of the other locations where I sometimes worked. Unfortunately, it is impossible for me to do that in Northfield.

    John wrote:

    Since our society has moved from an agrarian economy to an industrial economy, mobility has been imposed upon us, like it or not.

    Actually, dependence upon the automobile has been imposed upon us by particular planning decisions of the 1940s and 50s, and is not intrinsic to an industrial economy. Unfortunately, is much harder to put that genie back in the bottle than it was to let her out in the first place.

    One interesting discussion of that intentional transformation is seen in the fifth episode of Ken Burns’ New York miniseries. (I’m sure there are better discussions of it elsewhere, but this is one that comes to mind at the moment.) This episode discusses the transformation of New York City from a mass transit and pedestrian oriented metropolis to one which is more defined by the highways traveling into and through the city.

    Now take my situation, for example:

    I am presently employed in a satellite clinic of Northfield hospital. My contract requires me to live in Northfield, so that I have ready access to the hospital for delivery room emergencies. (Being able to live in Northfield was, of course, the biggest appeal of this position over others.) However, Northfield hospital also requires me to see patients on a regular basis at my clinic in Lakeville.

    My situation is the result of a self-fulfilling cycle of development. If the car was not the predominant mode of transportation, neither the hospital, nor my clinic, would have been built in the locations in which they are situated. Now that they are they are there, one needs a car to readily access them.

    The present mode of transportation planning seeks to anticipate where future development will occur, and attempts to guarantee access to these new locations by automobile by developing an ever-expanding and ever-widening network of roads and highways. Roads are heavily subsidized, while mass transportation is not. There is virtually no direct incentive for a developer or business to build centrally, just as there is no incentive to build neighborhoods dense enough to facilitate non-automotive transport. When the city of Northfield decided to build a new hospital, they chose the path of least resistance. They located the hospital well outside of town, on an undeveloped piece of former farmland. Access to this distant piece of land was not considered significant barrier, because everyone who needs to use it will be able to reach it by car. Building the hospital closer to the city would have required greater immediate expense in obtaining land, and more difficult decisions regarding what might be displaced.
    As long as this kind of transportation planning is the dominant model, we shall become ever more dependent upon individual motorized transport to get to where we need to go to work and to get through our day. The only way to interrupt this cycle of development is to make a very conscious decision to do so. This requires a conscious commitment to alternative models.

    I can think of no mass transit system that would be likely to meet my commuting needs in the foreseeable future. However, it is possible to start by focusing on mass transit options which will meet the needs of some of our citizenry. Examples of this could include rapid rail transport from Northfield to the Cities. Concurrently, we must continue efforts to keep Northfield’s local economic life as centralized and vigorous as possible.

    February 7, 2008
  17. John G.: I was careful in my comments (#9) you took issue with as idealistic but unrealistic (in #12) to begin with the prefatory comment “I know that it isn’t always possible to live near where you work, especially if you live in a two-earner household.” That is current reality for many people. (Although there are always lifestyle choices one can make that may alter that current reality.) I am happy to be accused of being idealistic, but I also strive to be at least a little realistic (the latter being primarily my wife’s influence).

    Current reality need not dictate future reality. We, as a community and a society, build future reality day-by-day. If we truly think it makes sense to live near where you work (or vice versa), rather than shuttling people around by car, carpool, vanpool, and mass transit, we can begin working toward that end as an increasingly large part of the solution..

    No transportation solution or set of transportation solutions will be easy and inexpensive to society. We also need to be cognizant that we are very likely already in the twilight of the cheap fossil fuel era (see Whether our cars/vans/buses/trains are powered by gasoline, diesel, ethanol derived from cellulosic biomass, biodiesel produced from algae grown on power plant carbon-dioxide emissions, or electricity, it is going to be difficult if not impossible to weather the transition to an expensive fossil fuel, increasingly renewable energy-powered society with its vital transportation services and systems operating more or less as they do today. Social and economic chaos are the more likely outcome unless we take aggressive action now.

    There is also an emerging scientific consensus that we need to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions by about 80% by mid-century to stabilize atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations at levels that can avoid catastrophic human alteration of global climate systems. The Minnesota Legislature passed, with the strong support of Governor Pawlenty, the Next Generation Energy Act of 2007 in May 2007 calling for, among other things, this 80% reduction in emissions by 2050. The act established a Minnesota Climate Change Advisory Group (see The group is in the process of trotting out their watered-down, compromise-laden recommendations. We’re not gonna get there (there being a stable atmosphere and significant movement toward a post-fossil-fuel era) unless future reality (in the transportation and all other sectors of the economy) looks A LOT different than current reality.

    February 7, 2008
  18. Anne Bretts said:

    Actually, Patrick, I believe the hospital was put where it is in part because it needs to serve an area much larger than Northfield to survive economically. To support its costs it has had to build clinics and provide services to Lakeville, Farmington, Lonsdale and other areas in the gulf between the Faribault hospital and the hospital in Burnsville.
    Putting the hospital closer to downtown and making it pedestrian friendly would have been fine for local patients, but would have made it more convenient for people outside the city to head up to Burnsville or south to Faribault. The competition already is fierce in healthcare, as in other areas, and operating costs demand population service areas far larger than the few people in one small town. And you can argue that adding the clinics cuts vehicle transportation by having you drive to see all your patients close to their homes instead of having all of them drive to see you here.
    It’s a very tricky situation…
    It’s the same issue for the library. It is great for the people downtown to have a library whithin walking distance, but the library serves the northern part of Rice County. To simply say it doesn’t matter to everyone else where the library is because they have to drive anyway seems to miss the point. Making some people drive more so some people drive less doesn’t solve the problem. I’m not saying the library has to move, just saying that the services we demand and the facilities we demand take large population bases to support. And the situation has to be considered in terms of that total service area, not just a few blocks of it.
    One solution back in the 50s would have been to determine the population cores and eliminate any support to Northfield and other towns too small and remote to support efficient growth. Let the towns die and have all the growth spread efficiently from the edges of Minneapolis and St. Paul.
    It’s kind of the argument about the Dakotas, that most of it should go back to prairie and the small town folks should just move closer to services. Again, I’m not saying Northfield should have disappeared, just looking at the big picture and seeing it as a very, very complicated puzzle, and one with no single solution. The pieces can be put together in many ways, creating many interesting outcomes.

    February 7, 2008
  19. Patrick Enders said:

    I understand why Northfield Hospital was built where it is. However, the reason that that location could ever be convenient to any of those other places is that people are going to get to and from it by car.

    If our transportation system was not so car-dependent, but rather our cities were connected by a viable and reliable mass-transit system, then downtown Northfield might someday be the best place for such a hospital.
    I agree with you on what is. However, we need to decide the manner in which our community will grow into the future. Starting to build a mass-transit infrastructure can allow us to continue to be a vibrant and distinctive city. I fear that continuing to favor unfettered car-based development will eventually turn Northfield into another Apple Valley.

    February 7, 2008
  20. Patrick Enders said:

    I just discovered the second half of your message (I only read the part about the hospital the first time).

    No one is endorsing anything like the model of development you describe for the Dakotas.

    February 7, 2008
  21. Patrick Enders said:

    Current reality need not dictate future reality. We, as a community and a society, build future reality day-by-day.


    p.s. Keep that helmet on! It is your civic duty to protect the valuable community asset situated between your ears.

    February 7, 2008
  22. Anne Bretts said:

    As I stated in my message, I don’t think the Dakotas strategy is appropriate here, although it might have been at some point. I’m just saying that there are no easy solutions.
    Mass transit is nice, but again requires a critical mass to work. So getting transit here is lower on the priority list than getting it up the Big Lake corridor, where there already are riders. The way to get mass transit here is to have more people, and that doesn’t seem to be what people here want.
    I guess I’d like to see someone address how we work with what we have and improve or change it, which is the only real option.
    I know Apple Valley is an easy scapegoat for all the evils of the world, but the fact is that it’s closer to the population grid than Northfield.
    So what can be done, realistically? We can’t put the genie back in the bottle, but isn’t the goal of all those with superpowers to learn how to harness their powers and use them for good?
    So how do we harness what we have and begin moving it in the right direction?

    February 7, 2008
  23. Jerry Bilek said:

    nice lid Bruce. I am now sporting my new Trek helmut from Mike’s Bikes. Trek is currently donating $1 from every helmut sale to 1 world 2 wheels.
    “The bicycle is a simple solution to some of the world’s most complicated problems.

    One World, Two WheelsSM is a Trek commitment to helping the world become a more bicycle friendly place.

    A key goal of One World, Two Wheels is to increase US trips taken by bicycle to 5% from the current 1% by 2017. With nearly 40% of car trips taken being under two miles, it’s an achievable goal.

    Go by Bike!”

    February 7, 2008
  24. Patrick Enders said:

    So what can be done, realistically? We can’t put the genie back in the bottle, but isn’t the goal of all those with superpowers to learn how to harness their powers and use them for good?
    So how do we harness what we have and begin moving it in the right direction?

    We could start, for example, by using the rails we have, and look to connect a commuter rail system up to the growing network in the Cities. There are already quite a few commuters in this town. If we could create a system that could get a decent number of them off the road and on to trains, we could reduce energy consumption, reduce pollution, and spur pedestrian-friendly mixed residential/retail development along the currently fairly barren Hwy. 3 corridor through downtown. That would, in turn, make Northfield a nicer place than it already is.

    While those long-term plans come together, we can work on smaller projects which can make biking and walking in Northfield as safe and practical as possible.

    February 7, 2008
  25. Tracy Davis said:

    From a planning standpoint, the first step is to stop the bleeding (a/k/a sprawl-style development). This is a large part of what caused the problem in the first place, and exacerbates both the problem itself and the difficulty in finding workable solutions.

    For communities on a smaller scale, or those without the critical mass necessary to justify the initial expense of trains, streetcars may be a viable option. In the Northfield area, expanding the scope of service offered by Northfield Transit could be another step in the right direction. I think they already offer shuttle service out to the Park & Ride by the Big Steer. It’s too bad we don’t have cooler options than the clunky van to the Big Steer and the stinky diesel bus up to Burnsville, but you have to start somewhere.

    Or maybe we should explore some sort of public-private partnership with the new CareTenders/Eco-Trans, Northfield Lines et al.

    The main thing is to take a series of small steps in the same direction with the goal of moving away from the one-person-per-private-vehicle commutes and the American average of nine separate car trips per day just to go about daily life. That involves both personal choice on the part of citizens, and adequate planning to develop a community that does not REQUIRE a car for every need by default.

    February 7, 2008
  26. Brian Bass said:

    To add to the discussion about ridesharing. Sites like nurude and the metro site are really for businesses that take an interest for the average commuter sites like is the better way to go. If cities could put up street signs(like the sites get involved section) that say Carpool. that might spur more people into carpooling and thus saving a lot of resources.

    February 7, 2008
  27. John George said:

    Bruce & Patrick- All good observations and comments on your parts. My opinion on these lifestyle changes is that it takes a long time to bring them about. I won’t live that long, but there is an importance for my children and grandchildren. All our developements over the last half century+ have gotten us to where we are. I agree that something needs to change, but I’m not sure what. I grew up near the large Amish community in Iowa. There is a group of people who have resisted modernization, and are therefore not affected by many of the things we are discussing here. They also have a small “world” they live in.

    I have quite a bit of contact with St. Olaf students. Many of the ones I know have traveled and studied all over the world. My own children have done the same. This would not be possible without some sort of mass transit system. When you get into a foriegn country, especially in the outlying areas, you only travel when the bus or train comes through, unless you want to walk a few hundred kilometers. This definitely affects your lifestyle. It seems in our country, our lifestyle choices have dictated our means of travel, and I think you two are saying the same thing. If we contiunue to think “globally”, we are going to need to have travel systems available to meet those expectations. This is where we differ with the Amish. They have not expanded their horizons, but are content to live locally.

    Bruce- In my reference to idealism, I was refering directly to my specific situation, not everyone else’s. I don’t see how a rapid rail system would benefit me that much. The thing would barely get up to speed before it would have to stop to let me off. Then, how do I get from the terminal to my workplace? SInce there is not regular bus schedules past it at this time, I would end up with over an hour commute morning and evening. In as much as I work 12-13 hrs a day, this makes for a difficult situation on my part. That is why I was referencing only my own particular needs.

    As far as the hospital being built where it was, it was my understanding that there is better remuneration for medical services in the metro area than in Rice county, and Dakota County is considered metro. I might be wrong on this, but that is what I learned about it a few years ago.

    February 7, 2008
  28. Patrick Enders said:

    As far as the hospital being built where it was, it was my understanding that there is better remuneration for medical services in the metro area than in Rice county, and Dakota County is considered metro. I might be wrong on this, but that is what I learned about it a few years ago.

    Very interesting. I have no idea whether or not this is true. However, it is the kind of thing that could be true under the arcane reimbursement system.

    Clearly, transportation is not the only thing that we need to work on.

    Apologies for the threadjack. Please return to your regularly scheduled discussion.

    February 7, 2008
  29. Anne Bretts said:

    Actually, being in Dakota Co. does make a difference in reimbursements; I forgot about that.
    I just find these discussions very interesting. I am fascinated by the way the various choices in some areas affect the outcomes in other areas. For example, would rail service be a good thing in getting Northfielders off the road or open up Northfield to much more development, leapfrogging out from Apple Valley right over Farmington and working against the orderly growth theory. Would it have been better from an overall transportation and cost effectiveness standpoint to have hospitals in Faribault and Burnsville and not have one Northfield? How do you keep Northfield small, yet provide enough population to support downtown retail, a new library, large schools and other amenities? I’m not taking sides on any of these issues, just really fascinated by the many facets of “improving” our little slice of the world.
    I think it would be great to do some ‘Sim City’ exercises that tested some of the many options to see how they’d play out.

    February 7, 2008
  30. kiffi summa said:

    Being up at 3 AM, drinking hot lemonade, because you have a beastly cold is certain to provide a clear head, n’est ce pas? (sp?)
    I vote for “clear head” Tracy, who in her posts 13 and 25 points out the need for a paradigm change. Think functioning, dense neighborhoods and you will begin to eliminate car trips. Just the short ones at first , but emissions are emissions.
    It does not matter so much (unless there are other governing reasons, as in the case of the library) where the hospital or library is, since each neighborhood cannot have its own one of EVERY facility. Placing an institution in the center of its user population makes the most equitable travel distance for all, and if that’s in a town center has other benefits, which may include saving car trips by doing other business/errands on one trip.
    The hospital had to move to a large piece of land with expansion possibilities, and in a site to capture other clients/patients. The reimbursement issue was a bit of a red herring in that the hospital was being reimbursed at full metro levels ( they said because reimbursement depends on wages paid, and they said they had to pay metro wages to attract best staff) but that full reimbursement was NOT guaranteed, had to be “awarded” each year, so the possibility of losing that was always a threat for them.
    Two Comp Plans back, the emphasis was on growing the community from the center out; no leapfrogging allowed! (And I’m sure the new one will go back to that premise, won’t it, Ross? Tracy?) But when that development principle was violated, all kinds of negative situations developed, both economic and social.

    P.S. Patrick: keep driving, no guilt, please….. the days of waiting for the Dr. to come around the bend in his horse and buggy are long gone. And I wouldn’t want my Dr. knocked off his bicycle by a Hummer, either.

    February 8, 2008
  31. Ray Cox said:

    Northfield continues to struggle with some core issues related to transportation. Are we going to create an elevated river and rail crossing at Jefferson Road? Are we going to create an east-west link on the north side of the city to connect TH3 and TH19? Are we going to bring Cedar Avenue down to connect to TH19? All these concepts have been included in many past studies, but no action has really been taken.
    I chaired a Northfield Industrial Corporation transportation study several years ago that I think did a pretty good job at looking at transportation issues. However, we have trouble with implementation in this community.
    As a business owner that gets involved in moving bulk goods in and out of the community I know how problematic it can be to bring a vehicle in on Th19 and have to navigate through that intersection. With a bypass route that could be avoided. Sending every sand, gravel, cement, concrete, truss, and other truck shipped deliveries on our ‘city’ streets continues to cause difficulties. Upper Lakes Foods didn’t avoid Northfield because of poor traffic flow, but they will be adding many, many more trucks each day to our roads. It would be good if we had some alternatives being worked on that would lead to improvements.

    February 8, 2008
  32. Ross Currier said:


    You bring up many of what are, in my opinion, some of the key transportation issues/decisions facing us right now and have been facing us for many years.

    Perhaps Griff could post an electronic version of the NIC Transportation Task Force Report; I agree with you Ray, it’s a good starting point for this topic.


    February 8, 2008
  33. Bill Ostrem said:

    I appreciate the level of discussion here about all aspects of transportation: motorized, nonmotorized, and transit.

    In his original post Ross asked what projects/plans/etc. should be completed by the end of 2008. I think he is trying to ask what are our priorities.

    Here are a few ideas:

    1. It seems as though Highway 19 is a priority for motor vehicle travel, but here we are limited by what MnDOT can do. I think the Council and business people and others should be clear that they communicate their wants with MnDOT about the access management study. There is an opportunity to have a center turn lane that might improve things, though this is no certainty. (Notice I say this even though an added lane might have some detrimental effects on my pet cause of nonmotorized traportation).

    2. Create a permanent regional Transportation Commission or Area Council of Governments (as in Rochester) or some other governmental body that would facilitate inter-city planning. This would perhaps lead to fewer planning problems such as those described in #3 below.

    3. On nonmotorized transportation, I think we do the greatest disservice to communities when we restrict whole neighborhoods to travel by motor vehicle only. Examples of this are the Mayflower Hill neighborhood east of the golf course (though this will be rectified somewhat by the Woodley St. project) and the neighborhoods of Co. Road 1, mainly in Bridgewater Township. The roads to these areas have had no shoulders or sidewalks, and no shared-use paths connect these communities to the rest of the area.

    The Co. Road 1 communities must be connected to the rest of the area via off-road paths, safe road crossings, and usable shoulders or bike lanes on the roads.

    We need to make sure that future subdivisions are not built with these defects.

    February 8, 2008
  34. Bill Ostrem said:

    Regarding # 2 in my post (#33), a regional transportation task force, as proposed by Bruce Morlan, the Dundas Planning Commission, and the Task Force on Nonmotorized Transportation, would be an interim solution and a more achievable step for 2008.

    February 8, 2008
  35. Tracy Davis said:

    Bill, you might be interested to hear one of the rallying cries of the Planning Commission: “Neighborhoods, Not Subdivisions!”

    The new Comp Plan underway has language in several areas that lay the groundwork for requiring non-motorized connections within and between neighborhoods, and we’re doing whatever we can to ensure that any future neighborhoods will NOT have the defects you described.

    February 8, 2008
  36. Jane Moline said:

    In general, the business development has to be more walk & bike friendly–the other day I dropped my car at Valley Autohaus and walked over to Snap Fitness to work out (I have an injured toe and cannot run outside in the cold)–I had to walk in the street for a ways, climb over snow piles, climb up a hill by the clinic, then cross the parking lot to more snow piles to Tires plus, then across their parking lot and over more snow piles to get to the Snap Fitness parking lot (did somebody really think I was going to walk all the way over to Jefferson drive to walk on a sidewalk and then go along the access road to Snap?)

    Anyway, I have walked and biked to Northfield from Dundas, and Northfield has done a poor job of access to highway 3 businessess–the bike trail in front of Target ends at Community bank and you have to cross the drive thru lanes to get on a road.

    I think we need to plan for business access for walkers and bike riders–and then you will have more people wanting sidewalks and paths in their neighborhoods. Right now, even if you can get out of your neighborhood your regular errands require traffic skill and some risk if you are walking or biking.

    February 8, 2008
  37. Peter Waskiw said:

    As a resident of Northfield and a user of the transportation system, public facilities and local business , I think this is a good discussion about facing transportation and land use issues that affect the future of my family. Good meaning well intentioned and non-contentious.

    The discussion mentions transportation networks meeting/connecting business needs, alternative mode choices, and reducing the need to make multiple trips by coordinating civic and private land use.

    With the competition between various cities for commercial tax base, public financing and meeting the existing business investment in this community, I wonder how these ideas for transportation infrastructure will/can be funded?

    February 8, 2008
  38. Ross Currier said:


    You bring up a really good point.

    The Chamber of Commerce and the Northfield Downtown Development Corporation, with the support of the Economic Development Authority, conducted a Retail Support Strategies Task Force last year. The membership in the Task Force was drawn equally from the Downtown Retail District and the Uptown Retail District.

    The top priority for infrastructure investment for the Uptown folks was just the type of connectivity that you are talking about in your comment: being able to go (by bike, by car or by foot) from one retailer to another in the Uptown District.

    Thanks much,


    February 9, 2008
  39. What about handicapped or just plain limited people? I hear very little
    about that around this town and I wonder how much business is lost
    because of the very few handicap parking spaces dt, and difficult
    door passes?

    February 9, 2008
  40. Kathleen Doran-Norton said:

    What a great discussion!
    What can we do?

    1. Agree on community-wide goals so we can speak with one voice to the county and state.

    2. Start with taking the dusty 30-year-old plan for a Jefferson Rd. bridge off the map. It won’t happen. It is not supported by the wider community. Why is it even in the new Northfield Comp Plan draft? and why was there NO mention of the year-long corridor study in the new comp plan?

    3. Make the Northfield Comp Plan transportation chapter clear. What exactly does ‘preserving the rural character’ of roads on the edge of town mean? Narrow, unsafe, and gravel-topped? Does it mean Northfield plans to ignore the increased maintenance cost of more vehicles than the road was intended for? That certainly does not support safe walking, biking, or car travel!

    4. Fill in the empty pages of the Northfield comp plan’s implementation section. It’s all boiler plate.

    1. Watch county funding for transportation. It’s been flat for the last two years, while material and fuel costs for the transportation dept have risen.

    2. Communicate our local goals to the county, and make certain they make their way into the county’s annual transportation goals. Northfield has 3 county commissioners: Jim Brown, Jake Gillen, and Galen Malecha. Their email addresses are listed on

    3. Look for any signs of follow-up from the county on the corridor plan. Is it dead-in-the-water because our local governments have not recognized it?

    1. Encourage the MN legislature to enact pay-as-you-go funding for transportation this session. These ‘no new tax’ years, we’ve been kicking the cost of transportation maintenance and safety to the future by relying on bonding only. It’s catching up to us. I understand we currently spend $50,000,000 on interest annually in our state transportation budget, and that interest expense has never been in transportation budgets in the past.

    2. Watch the MN legislature this month. If a transportation plan dies early in the session, there needs to be another effort that works. No more partisan blame games allowed.

    3. Get involved in MNDOT’s long range (20 year) plan update this year. Right now we don’t have clear community-wide goals to contribute to this effort, and without clear goals, we will lose out.

    4. Ask the MN legislature to clarify that one additional bridge would be allowed over the Cannon River on the south end of Northfield. After a year of DNR saying one more bridge was allowable, the CSAH 1 corridor study group was told at the end of the study that NO bridge could be built over the Cannon River.

    5. Pay attention to what is in MNDOT’s work plan for 2010. We may not even get a resurfacing of Hwy 19, much less any safety improvements.

    February 9, 2008
  41. Tracy Davis said:

    Kathleen, thank you for the detailed suggestions – they’re excellent.

    It’s my understanding that what’s in the Transportation chapter of the draft Comp Plan is just a placeholder until the transportation plan is done later this year, but it helps to have informed people watchdogging the process. Ross and I will be sure the specific suggestions you made here are communicated to the Planning Commission and City staff.

    February 9, 2008
  42. Anne Bretts said:

    It would be great for the NDDC and Chamber to forward any specific suggestions or problems to the NonMotorized Transportation Task Force. We are working the various city plans to make a list of issues and recommendations to begin closing the gaps in existing trails, paths and routes as the first step in the larger issues of total access.

    February 10, 2008
  43. Anne Bretts said:

    The legislative session is starting, transportation is a main issue, and so I’m wondering why we’re just starting this discussion now.
    Why don’t our leaders have a priority list and a lobbying effort in place? Why aren’t we active players in the existing push by Dakota County to get the Dan Patch line proposal revived and improve park-and-ride service to Apple Valley and create the same in Lakeville.
    All the priority lists are in place for the region, so why aren’t we actively involved in pushing them? We don’t have the population or the tax base to go it alone and expect results. Supporting the extension of transit services to our neighbors (where our commuters can at least reduce their drive time) means our neighbors will be more likely to push for us later.
    It’s time that we get a priority list, review it each year and start checking off accomplishments. I realize not all issues require state help, so the local list should include issues for the city and county, to be included in the next budget cycle — and the next elections.
    MnDOT and other communities and counties have 10-year lists that are updated each year. Northfield should have the same, just like the city needs a 5-year capital improvement plan with priorities and budgets. It’s time to get busy.

    February 10, 2008
  44. Bill Ostrem said:

    Good ideas, Anne!

    February 11, 2008
  45. David Ludescher said:

    The Chamber’s transportation concerns revolve around Highway 3, and County Road 1 because they most impact commerce. One of the Chamber’s concerns with regard to NonMotorized “Transportation” is that the focus on non-motorized issues not detract from the substantive transportation concerns.

    February 11, 2008
  46. David,
    I can certainly understand and respect the Chamber’s transportation concerns revolving around Highway 3 and County Road 1.

    However, I can’t help but get the sense from your use of quotation marks concerning nonmotorized “transportation,” and your concern that “nonmotorized issues not detract from substantive transportation concerns,” that you feel bicycling and walking are non-substantive issues not worthy of serious discussion by serious adults in discussions of transportation planning in the area. Am I completely misreading your comments, or is this your view?

    If you do indeed feel this way, please be explicit. I disagree completely, but I don’t want to be setting up a straw man.

    I don’t want nonmotorized issues to detract from motorized issues, nor do I want motorized issues to detract from nonmotorized issues (as they have for the past 100 years). I think both need to be taken seriously and addressed in a healthy, thoughtful, holistic way. They haven’t been in the past. Nonmotorized transportation issues have been, for the most part, ignored in this community.

    February 11, 2008
  47. Jerry Bilek said:

    Well said Bruce.

    David, please explain your statement regarding non-motorized transportation. Yes, it is transportation. Belittling it does not help your cause. It does, however, make me believe the Chamber is not serious about these issues. I hope I am wrong.

    February 11, 2008
  48. John George said:

    Kathleen- In your post #40, you said “… Start with taking the dusty 30-year-old plan for a Jefferson Rd. bridge off the map. It won’t happen. It is not supported by the wider community…” Are you sure there is not community support for this? When I lived on Jefferson Drive, my morning commute from Jefferson Parkway/Hwy 3 out past Olaf on 19 was horrendous. What with all the highschool students heading into school and the commuters heading out, it was really full. And that was before all the extra developement out on Jefferson Parkway. I would hate to be involved in that now. I have no figures on this, but I wonder how many people living out in the new developements work in the cities? Funnelling this traffic around Cardinal Glass out to where Old Dutch road comes in seems like good sense to me. Like it or not, I think we are stuck with the automobile for quite a few years, yet.

    A few years ago, it seems I read that one of the greatest hurdles in routing Jefferson Parkway over the river was what it would do to the softball diamonds. So far, it seems that sports has won out over traffic, but I don’t see that happening forever.

    Bruce and Jerry- As far as the non-motarized transportation needs, my personal opinion is that I would like to see the cyclists obey the traffic laws on the current thoroughfares we have. Just a couple weeks ago, I was west bound on that S curve where 3rd. Street turns into Forest Ave. by 3 Links. I met a cyclist heading eastbound right in the center of my lane! This was a 50-ish person, also! That gave me enough adrenalin for the rest of my week. You two seem to have quite a bit of influence with that segment of our population. Is there anything you could do to create a little incentive to obey the laws? I think this is something we need, for BOTH drivers and cyclists, no matter how we change the streets to integrate the two types of vehicles. I won’t even go into how many times I have seen cyclists whizz through the intersection of St. Olaf and Lincoln without so much as even slowing down. And, these aren’t students, either! Actually, in thinking about this, maybe we should put up some concrete barriers on some sreets and designate them for cyclists only. Not real feasible, but just a thought.

    February 11, 2008
  49. Jerry Bilek said:


    I agree, cyclists need to obey basic traffic laws. So do drivers.

    Check out the intersection of Maple and Jefferson parkway some morning. The stop sign on Maple is considered to be optional by many drivers. The speed limit, merely a suggestion. It is the rare car that obeys it. Rarely does a car stop behind the white line so I can cross in the crosswalk. I walk this area every morning.

    One of my morning rides passes a stop sign where I have the right of way. I have never, I mean never, seen a car stop at this stop sign. Not once. One car blew through it at 55. That same car blew through it at 55 every day. Almost hit me once, not to worry she sped up to thread the needle. I had nowhere to go. I swerve right I’m dead, I swerve left and I’m in the lane of oncoming traffic.

    watch the stop signs around town and see how many cars actually stop behind the white line? How many roll through and slow down. How many merely tap the brakes, then gun it. How many drivers talk on there phones while driving. I heard a report that inattentive driving has now passed drunk driving as the leading cause of traffic deaths. Why the sudden increase in inattentive driving? the cell phone.

    No doubt, cyclists need to stay off the sidewalks downtown, they need to stop, signal turns and ride on the correct side of the road. I’m not asking for special treatment or even equal treatment. Just what’s written in the law. And I’ll keep riding because I love it. The more riders we have, the more drivers will be aware of us.

    I don’t think I carry much influence with other cyclists, but Iagree we could use a lot of education for many.

    February 11, 2008
  50. Anne Bretts said:

    OK, I just came from a City Council meeting in Roseville, where they are considering a 500,000 square foot corporate complex on a large piece of land along Twin Lakes. The project includes several buildings and parking for up to 2,000 workers — and the main discussion items were minimizing the visual impact of surface parking, creating pedestrian friendly sidewalks and pedestrian friendly building designs and locations. They were trying to balance the idea of creating urban buildings with a streetscape look with the fact that doing so creates a wall of buildings blocking the view of the lake.
    The design includes roundabouts for vehicle traffic intersections — in the heart of Roseville just blocks from Rosedale Center — and much consideration for access to the lake for recreation and trails around it, as well as planting enough trees to soften the entire development. And all of this for land that was a industrial terminal in the past.
    My point is that if $150 million projects are designed with pedestrian issues as part of the transportation package, then we can incorporate them without threatening out ability to attract and support business. It was a very exciting and encouraging discussion, and one that goes on every day throughout the area. Transportation includes everyone, and developers take pedestrian design for granted, just as they do storm water retention, curbs and gutters.
    On the other points: I live a block from Maple along Jefferson and I haven’t had problems with walking or driving in the area. In general I find it very safe, but I grew up outside Chicago, and I do believe our backgrounds affect our sense of safety. I commute to St. Louis Park three to five days a week and have no problem at all getting out of town or getting home. I do think the time for a bridge across the river at Jefferson is past. Now that there are three schools, a senior center, homes and a giant soccer complex along Jefferson, adding through traffic, especially trucks, seems to be asking for trouble. Just my opinion, and I realize my perspective differs from Jerry and John. I’m not questioning their observations, just saying I see it a little differently.

    February 12, 2008
  51. Kathleen Doran-Norton said:


    I commuted to downtown Minneapolis for four years, and agree there should be a southern corridor, but not at Jefferson Parkway and not to Dutch Road. Not only does this route cross the Cannon River, but it also crosses Heath Creek twice and leads to a dead end at Hwy 19. The land on the other side of where Dutch Rd. ends is in a permanent conservation easement with US Fish and Wildlife. And you rightly mention the difficulty of decommissioning Sechler park, built with special funding and status.

    Rice County, MNDOT, Northfield and Bridgewater townships, the cities of Northfield and Dundas spent well over $100,000 to study where the southern corridor should be for the future, and to take action to preserve the right-of-way for that corridor. All agreed to a corridor along the current CSAH 1, over the river and the railroad, to link up to Decker Avenue. Decker is identified by Rice County as a primary north-south corridor in its 2002 transportation plan, and is currently under study in the North-west (Northfield) corridor study sponsored by Dakota County.

    A corridor across the Cannon river should connect to east-west AND to north-south access to be most effective. It should support Northfield’s identified high growth area in its southeast corner (246-1-81 corner). It should support Northfield’s identified industrial growth areas on the northwest side of the city. It should support the industrial and commercial growth in Northfield’s southtown commercial area, in Dundas, and the Bridgewater Heights community.

    February 12, 2008
  52. A couple of months ago, I was driving my pick up truck, which I bought when we were building our own place in OK cuz they don’t much deliver where we are, I was dive bombed by a bicyclist as I was coming out of Just Foods.
    I suppose it was cuz I was driving a pick up, which gets 20 mpg, but what
    she didn’t know was that there is less than 6,000 mp year on it, whereas my
    dh’s car gets 28 mpg and it’s got 20,000 mp year. Dive bomb him for goodness sake, and let’s get a proper corridor for it.

    February 12, 2008
  53. Jerry Bilek said:


    please tell me how you knew what the dive bomber was thinking? Did they say something? And just what is dive bombing? Did you pull out in front of the cyclist and they rode close to you? I’m not denying it happened, just trying to understand the situation.

    I’ll say it again, cyclists need to obey the laws, education and enforcement are the key components to achieve this.

    February 12, 2008
  54. As I was leaving Just Foods on Water Street, headed south, this gril on a bike came out from 6th street and crossed over to my lane, which is not only bad, but I presume illegal for any car, and not only was
    she in my lane, but she was headed straight into the center of my bumper with a body language of a dive bomber. I slowed right down of course and looked her right in the eye as she veered off to my right, headed northbound. Her face was fierce and accusing, while I had never even gotten to 10 mph, I am a pokey driver and in no hurry to get anywhere ever, and she just glared at me, and I looked at her like she shouldn’t be trying to commit suicide. A day or two later I read on the internet, and I forget where now, that it was a movement against SUVs and otherAs I was leaving Just Foods on Water Street, headed south, this gril on a bike came out from 6th street like a bat out of h e double hockey sticks, crossed over to my lane, which is not only bad, but I presume illegal for any car, and not only was she in my lane, but she was headed straight into the center of my bumper with a body language of a dive bomber. I slowed right down of course and looked her right in the eye as she veered off to my right, headed northbound. Her face was fierce and accusing, while I had never even gotten to 10 mph, I am a pokey driver and in no hurry to get anywhere ever, and she just glared at me, and I looked at her like she shouldn’t be trying to commit suicide. A day or two later I read on the internet, and I forget where now, that it was a movement against SUVs and other gas guzzlers. She was also dressed so as not to be recognizable, except I did look right into her face as I said. I hadn’t reported it earlier because I believe in their right to demonstrate, although the method is a lacking.
    Although she startled me, she didn’t scare me cuz I drive too slow to have
    been in danger of hitting her. And I wouldn’t have known what she was really up to, had I not come across the article I mentioned.

    February 12, 2008
  55. John George said:

    Jerry- I agree wholeheartedly on driving manners for ALL vehicles and pedestrians on the road. That is why I noted that in my post. I’m not sure what is behind the general lack of respect for others, whether they are walking, driving, riding, or just waiting. I have a couple opinions, but no definite statistics to support them. It seems there is a general slide in civility across our whole society. Even the humor I see on the few sit-coms I’m exposed to at work seems to center around tearing someone else down. It’s little wonder we see some of the driving behavior displayed that we do. I’m not sure that more education will help, either. We are one of the most educated societies in the world, but I see little evidence of how it is changing our behavior, asside from legislation.

    As far as cell phone usage while driving, I think this should be outlawed, just as not using your seat belt. I admit that I have been guilty of this practice, but it always leaves me feeling yucky, like I got away with something this time, but I might not in the future. Just as seat belt use is a life or death situation, I think we need to recognize that cell phone use enters into that, also, but that is just my opinion. I know that past attempts at legislating this practice have been voted down. Perhaps we have not seen enough traffic deaths attributed to it, yet. It seems that that is the criterion that drives certain legislation, rather than common sense.

    Perhaps, rather than relying on roadway design only to take care of our problems, we should focus on changing our attitudes toward other people. If we esteem others as more important or at least equal to us, we might be moving in the right direction. This would take care of more than just bad driving habits and road rage. It might even change how we get along with one another in the community we live in.

    February 12, 2008
  56. Bill Ostrem said:

    On the issue of cyclist behavior, I would emphasize two areas for improvement:

    Education: We need to educate cyclists better so that they obey traffic laws and do not endanger themselves through behavior such as ignoring stop signs and riding on the wrong side of the street. The Task Force on Nonmotorized Transportation is trying to get this started by bringing in a “League Cycling Instructor” (one certified by the League of American Bicyclists) from the Cities and training local cyclists, including school kids, possibly this spring. Eventually we hope to have locals trained as cycling instructors to educate students and others. (This might be a source of income for the instructors.) It would be excellent, for example, if the colleges offered cycling education each fall for students.

    Education of motorists also needs to be improved so that they are aware of the laws that protect cyclists. (In general, I find nearly all drivers to be respectful.)

    Enforcement: We need to enforce the existing laws to spur better cyclist behavior. This means having the police ticket those who violate traffic laws. This may not be popular with cyclists, but it’s necessary.

    February 12, 2008
  57. Anne Bretts said:

    OK, geezer moment here, but back when most of us over 40 were growing up, we sat in the front seat (after loud arguments over ‘who had dibs’) or we sat in the back seat or the bed of a pick-up truck, like so many untethered missiles ready to be launched through the air to our deaths. Safety aside, we could watch traffic, watch how our parents and other drivers interacted and see the pedestrians and bikes in the mix. We walked and rode bikes on a regular basis. We knew that even a small miscalculation could mean our heads smacking into the dashboard as our parents braked or a broken arm as we swerved our bikes and hit a mailbox, tree or the ground.
    We learned by trial and error,
    Today, my grandkids sit in space shuttles cocoons of safety, facing backward and watching videos. They might as well be traveling in a tank. They don’t ride bikes or walk on a regular basis.
    One of the things I noticed on the last walk-to-school effort was that kids seemed to have no clue how to get through the four-way stop intersection. They didn’t know which car would go next or how to make sure they looked a driver in the eye to make sure the driver saw them.
    I’m not advocating going back to the ‘good old days,’ but we do need to recognize that we have to do a lot more purposeful education to make up for the stuff we learned by osmosis. Parents have to walk kids through intersections, ride with them and teach them, not just once or twice, but over and over until they get it. And parents have to make sure their new drivers really understand how to deal with pedestrians and bicyclists as well as how to manage the GPS system and iPod dock.

    February 12, 2008
  58. John George said:

    Anne & Bill- I still say education, schmeducation. If education really had any effect on changing behavior, we should be the best behaving society in the world. It is evident that we are not. I think Bill’s reference to enforcement of existing laws for cyclists AND for drivers would be appropose. The problem is how we get that done without every other person being a law enforcement officer. Now that’s a novel idea. Where is peer pressure in all this? Are we so many tolerant hedonistic individuals that we can’t lay down our own “convenience” for someone’s safety? The way I see some people drive would lead me to think that they believe the laws are for someone else and not them. This is the attitude that needs changing.

    February 12, 2008
  59. Anne Bretts said:

    John, I agree that character is the key, but I’m pointing out that many kids and young adults just never get that foundation in the first place. I’m not talking about adding more classes in school, but adults taking responsibility for teaching their own kids.
    And more geezer talk, but every time I flip through cable television and see what passes for ‘reality’ I realize that we may be doomed already. When more kids want to be celebrity personal assistants than teachers or doctors or business owners, we have a problem. And when people believe everything from getting a job to getting a relationship is based on a competition involving destroying others to win, it’s easy to see how traffic etiquette isn’t a priority for many people. They’re thinking about themselves, so nothing else matters.

    February 12, 2008
  60. Ross Currier said:

    Personally, I think that non-vehicular options should always be considered and, where they make sense, should be implemented.

    I will admit that when I wrote this post, I was thinking of the road network. Although much of the five task forces, studies and analyses that I listed above were about connecting Northfield with the rest of the world, many of them also touch upon connecting different parts of Northfield to each other.

    The NIC Transportation Task Force study was mentioned in one of the comments. I know that there are a number of people in town that believe it remains a living and powerful document that continues to have value for the community.

    Looking at map that was included in that study, I note the Legend (“Problem Road and Street Segments in the Northfield Area”) at the top. I think that it is another list worth considering:

    1. Future T. H. 19 Diversion
    2. Proposed Cedar Avenue Extension (320th St. to North Avenue)
    3. North Avenue (T. H. 19 to Cedar Avenue)
    4. Thye Parkway (Cedar Avenue to T. H. #3)
    5. North Avenue (Zanmiller Drive to T. H. #3)
    6. Proposed Cedar Avenue Extension (North Avenue to T. H. #19)
    7. Jefferson Parkway Extension (T. H. #19 to Armstrong Road)
    8. Jefferson Parkway Extension (Armstrong Road to T. H. #3)
    9. Jefferson Parkway link (Between completed segment)
    10. Jefferson Parkway Extension (Spring Creek Rd. to T. H. #19)
    11. Spring Creek Road (Jefferson Parkway to T. H. #19)
    12. T. H. #19 & T. H. #3 Common Roadway Segment

    February 12, 2008
  61. John George said:

    Anne- Very well stated on your part, as usual. There must be both informational teaching and demonstrational teaching. I agree that that is an area we adults have missed and let the next generation down.

    February 12, 2008
  62. Anne Bretts said:

    As I said before, I think you have to reconsider Jefferson as a through-route. Putting the schools, senior center, soccer fields and so much housing on the route, and narrowing the traffic lanes with the center islands, all make this a very unsafe road for anything but local traffic. Look at 246, which runs in front of the middle school and has everyone concerned about the incompatibility of kids and highway traffic now. Adding a second highway-intensive road at the intersection will guarantee endless fights over lowering speed limits, balancing vehicle pedestrian needs, adding traffic lights and police patrols, all compounded by the time ‘bubbles’ of use that the schools and sports fields generate. A safe 50 miles an hour at 10 p.m. on the weekend isn’t safe during the 20-minute weekday morning crush.

    February 12, 2008
  63. Jane Moline said:

    First of all, you can complain all you want about bikes or cars not obeying traffic laws or being downright nasty and “dive bombing” a poor defenseless truck driving down the road–but the end result is that a big motorized vehicle will trump a little two wheeled bicycle every time. There are plenty of people with bad manners, poor training or non-existent parenting. What we need is a reasonable transportation option that does not cut-out any of the users–so include the concerns of walkers, hikers, and cars.

    And we should all remember what our parents taught us (or should have taught us–for those who did not get this message, listen up) if you are bigger and more powerful you have a responsibility to look out for the weaker, or less powerful–if you hurt them, it is always your fault and I don’t want to hear excuses. Watch out for the little guy (this also means those old fogeys who drive too slow and don’t see too well.) It is OK to complain later that you almost ran over a little kid on a bike and it almost gave you a heart attack–just don’t run them over.

    When there are available alternatives they will be used–those that are able will walk or bike when they can (except for David Ludescher, who was born 50 years too late.)

    We are in a transition period when we are seeking alternatives to driving anywhere–and we want our tax dollars working for us to give us those alternatives.

    We really do need to find a way to educate drivers on how to STOP–your front bumper should be BEHIND the stop sign (NOT your rear bumper in front of the stop sign.) Also, rolling is not stopping. Also, rolling and waving at me to go ahead appears to look like you want me to pull out so you can hit me! Sorry I digress.

    February 12, 2008
  64. One of the reasons people pull past the stop lines is simply because traffic to the left and right are not always visible due to oblique angles or bushes, trees, etc. There is a lot of bad or non existing planning surrounding this area of

    I agree the cell phone is a big contributor. I never have talked on a cell phone while driving and I never will. The mind simply cannot focus on two different things in any one given second.

    February 12, 2008
  65. David Ludescher said:

    Bruce: Let me be explicit: Motorized transportation is the Chamber’s priority. All this discussion about bikes and sidewalks does not further a complete transportation discussion. The Chamber would like a full discussion of vehicular traffic, especially on Highways 19 and 1. These are significant “commerce” roads that need attention before significant funds are spent filling in the gaps in bike trails.

    February 12, 2008
  66. Anne Bretts said:

    David, you’re missing one of the most significant trends in commercial development. If you are building roads and new developments without nonmotorized options, you aren’t just passing up optional amenities, you are effectively taking yourself out of the game. You have to do both. I don’t think I have written about a single development in the last five years that didn’t include some investment in nonmotorized transportation access.
    I agree that Hwys 1 and 19 are important for commerce, but companies don’t want the liability of having their trucks on the roads with pedestrians and bicyclists, if they can just as easily locate in communities where they have safer passage. You have amazingly stiff competition out there, so giving the other guys an edge doesn’t make sense.

    February 12, 2008
  67. Gabriel Rholl said:

    David, I thank you for supplying a viewpoint from the point of view of the Chamber of Commerce. I appreciate and understand your point of view, but I can’t help but feel that only addressing “commerce” roads and vehicular traffic is somewhat contradictory to a “complete transportation discussion.” I know that Just Foods Co-op, a member of the chamber of commerce and my employer, is very appreciative of its customers and employees utilizing non-motorized transportation whenever possible, and, in my case, almost exclusively. From experience, trying to use our streets and roads (i.e. our current infrastructure) for biking is somewhat similar to trying to fix a broken leg by putting a band-aid on it. I constantly find myself weaving all over the place between our patchwork of trails, streets, and sidewalks. In Riverside park, I occasionally have to ride across the grass just to get to a street that is safe to access Target with. It’s not the most safe, secure or convenient method of getting anywhere, but I can attest that it is quicker than one might think and very cheap.

    I should get a picture with my bike helmet too! I wonder if I have one anywhere…

    February 12, 2008
  68. David Henson said:

    The current approaches to growth seem to require that Northfield accommodate the “car” and thus become a congested suburb. Why can’t a more radical approach to transportation and logistics be considered where the “car” accommodates the urban design ? Is a street car out of the question to get people in and out of downtown and to school ? Sooner or later all big cities get en-snarled with cars and are forced into alternatives , why can’t a small city start off looking at alternatives ? This is also a development issue , if Northfield becomes just like Apple Valley or any other suburb (the place equivalent of a commodity) then what differentiates the community to attract more than an average share of talented people and businesses ?

    February 12, 2008
  69. Don’t need no picture, with a name like Gabriel Rholl, I can just see the
    announcing trumpet and the spoked wheel.

    February 12, 2008
  70. John S. Thomas said:


    Let me be explicit… If that is the chambers priority, then I think folks may have to rethink the support and patronization of Chamber member businesses, that support you.

    To cease supporting some of these hardworking small businesses however, would be wrong. Are you sure your focus is meeting their needs?

    Commerce is important, but a good infrastructure is equally so.

    I really think that your missing the point of a comprehensive transportation plan.

    I thought the Chamber was for the common good of Northfield?

    I do not think having a “vehicular only” focus is good for the community as a whole. I strongly urge you to rethink your position, and become educated on the master plan. Many of the things your organization is focusing on can co-exist within it.

    February 12, 2008
  71. Bill Ostrem said:


    I can understand the Chamber considering motorized transportation – separate from public transit – to be its highest transportation priority, because that has been the standard practice in our culture and that is how most people and goods get around. However, times are changing and I think it is short-sighted to not include a multi-modal approach to transportation. The economic, environmental, and public health reasons for a multi-modal approach are growing in importance each year.

    Some time ago I went and looked at what the U.S. Chamber of Commerce says about transportation on its web site, and I was rather surprised and encouraged by what I found. Here is a quote from their page on transportation:

    America’s transportation and infrastructure system, once a marvel of the modern world, has been stretched beyond its capacity and has fallen into disrepair. A decaying transportation system costs our economy more than $78 billion annually in lost time and fuel. The Chamber advocates for a comprehensive approach to solving the nation’s looming transportation infrastructure crisis. Specifically, the Chamber believes that a multi-modal and intermodal vision must increase capacity, reduce congestion, and improve the efficient, safe, sustainable movement of goods and people throughout the country and world.

    I am struck by their use of the terms “comprehensive,” “multi-modal,” “intermodal” (such as driving and then getting on a train), and”sustainable.” Surely walking, biking, and public transit are part of these categories.

    I dug deeper into the U.S. Chamber’s site and found material concerned not only with highways but also with mass transit.

    I hope that the Northfield Area Chamber of Commerce will embrace this transportation vision espoused by its parent, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, especially since that vision coincides with the current trend of transportation planning by Northfield area governments.

    February 13, 2008
  72. David Ludescher said:

    I entered into the conversation hoping that we could have a discussion about the importance of motorized transportation concerns and its priority to the overall health of our community.

    February 13, 2008
  73. I agree with David Henson, they use the street cars in Italy and Switzerland.

    There should also be certain days where handicapped people can drive right to the door of their destination.

    The all or nothing approach is Soooo last century.

    February 13, 2008
  74. Jerry Bilek said:

    David you said:
    “I entered into the conversation hoping that we could have a discussion about the importance of motorized transportation concerns and its priority to the overall health of our community.”

    You were hoping for this conversation by seeing how many people you could alienate with your ridiculous statement in comment #65. This plan makes absolutely no sense.

    Personally, I believe the issues Ray Cox raised are important and worthy of devoting resources to. Others have contributed thoughtful comments too.

    I can’t believe anyone in the chamber would take your statement seriously.

    February 13, 2008
  75. David Ludescher said:


    Let’s talk about the issues Ray Cox raised.

    February 13, 2008
  76. Ross Currier said:

    As I said in comment #60, I think that non-motorized options should always be considered and, if they make sense, implemented. I would say the same thing for public transportation options.

    However, the Planning Commission is going to be discussing the Transportation Chapter next Tuesday, and considering that I have been interested in this issue for the past five years, and because I have the sense that we’ve not made much progress on the issues identified by numerous task forces, studies and analyses focusing primarily on our motorized connections, it was the needs and/or weaknesses in this area that I was trying to focus on in my post. I was hoping to get feedback on my sense that there are many things that have not been checked off of our “to-do” list in this area and find out if there are some larger and important items that should be added to that list.

    Some people, at one point in the process, suggested that perhaps we should start with a “blank slate”. I guess that I would think that this approach would make sense if we’d completed our “to-do” list, or that the information that we had assembled on the subject was many years out of date, or that we were convinced that the recommendations were based on misguided analysis. Although things have changed and perspectives may have shifted, our network of roads remains and, it is my personal opinion, many of the issues also remain.

    Are the task forces, studies or analyses currently being or that were recently conducted missing anything? Are the issues identified or the recommendations made by the various groups or reports over the past few years missing anything? Have any challenges or opportunities recently emerged that would dramatically impact the existing and/or future infrastructure?

    I would like to believe that we can include it all in our current work. My hope is we can try to get on the same page, as least for a moment in time, and move forward together on a few high priority projects.

    February 13, 2008
  77. Griff Wigley said:


    You can be angry in your disagreements here but for you to call David L’s statement “ridiculous” and accuse him of deliberately alienating people here is over-the-top insulting.

    And indirectly, it’s a harsh message to anyone else who might be inclined to participate, esp. those who might disagree with you.

    Can you try again with a different tone?

    February 13, 2008
  78. David Henson said:

    “One day Alice came to a fork in the road and saw a Cheshire cat in a tree. “Which road do I take?” she asked. “Where do you want to go?” was his response. “I don’t know,” Alice answered. “Then,” said the cat, “it doesn’t matter.”
    ~ Lewis Carroll

    Ross – I am certain the issues in #60 are real concerns. But people, including I assume yourself, like the human scale of the historic Northfield. One just cannot feasibly walk or bike around the commercial areas of Eagan, Apple Valley or Lakeville. Northfield is at a fork in the road and if people do not demand human scale development for the future then all evidence points to our becoming just like other suburban areas.

    As far as commercial concerns go, using the Internet as a coordinating tool, there is no physical reason why a municipal freight terminal could not be set up on H19 to break down freight so Northfield, at the least, would not have to be built to semi-truck scale.

    The town cannot grow and accommodate unchecked car and truck traffic and remain human in scale. The is a mathematical fact because a car and truck are many times larger than humans. This is easy to see in Northfield since half the population live on 2 campuses that are only 1 or 2 % of the total land area.

    Here is an interesting web site that discusses among other things the percentage of the transportation budget directed to automobile transport, 90 plus %, vs the number of people actually driving, 50% . With Northfield, being a college town, with many young kids (and soccer field traffic jams) and having several senior residences one would have to estimate Northfield’s driving public at below 50% of the population.

    Maybe Northfield should consider a proportional transportation budget.

    February 14, 2008
  79. Paul Fried said:

    Yo, Jerry:
    I agree with you that there’s a problem/contradiction in David’s comments #65: He talks about a complete solution, but unlike others here (whose approaches are more open to bikes and pedestrians from the start), he claims “complete” for the Chamber means motorized vehicles first, and doesn’t necessarily include the rest at all — so it’s not really complete.

    This would be like a right-wing politician or economist saying a complete economic incentive package would be tax breaks for the rich only, or for the rich first, and if you ever get around to it, maybe others, but don’t count on it.

    I agree with the majority here who view “complete” as including bikes and pedestrians from the start whenever possible (and it might be more cost-effective to include them from the start instead of retrofitting things later?).

    To find the right tone, here’s my suggestion:
    Instead of calling #65 “ridiculous,” try humor:
    “David Ludescher, you ignorant slut.”

    This will be recognized instantly as an allusion to 1970’s SNL “Weekend Update” (Dan Akroyd/Jane Curtain). Then you’re in like Flynn.

    In the SNL skits, it was always the right-wing Akroyd using this line on the liberal Curtain — but turnabout is fair play. Kind of ironic too.

    Go for the irony.

    February 14, 2008
  80. Paul Fried said:

    Instead of blocking off traffic on weekends, I’d rather see more riverside dining options, with sidewalks and bike paths extended and improved from downtown to Sechlur Park. Then you could eat, watch the kayaks, watch the progress on the construction of the new multi-step falls in the river….

    February 14, 2008
  81. Anne Bretts said:

    I’m confused. Bly introduced Dan Patch legislation this week, but where are the local resolutions of support from all the government bodies and chambers of commerce and other groups? Where are the rallies and joint displays of support, standing alongside officials from other cities along the line?
    Here’s an opportunity to get something started and people are focused on more plans and vision statements and talk, talk, talk.

    February 14, 2008
  82. David Ludescher said:

    Ross: After 82 posts, perhaps you can understand why motorized transportation projects don’t get traction in Northfield.

    February 14, 2008
  83. John S. Thomas said:


    There are two choices… being part of the problem, or being part of the solution.

    If you truly believe in this cause, what have you and the chamber done TODAY to move toward your goal?

    Posts like that are not going to get it. It is up to organizations like the chamber to step forward and lead the charge.

    February 14, 2008
  84. John George said:

    David H.- I can’t remember the guy’s name, but someone said that when you come to a fork in the road, take it. I guess that without some sort of planning, the Cheshire Cat’s comment is accurate.

    February 14, 2008
  85. John, I could not resist responding to your comment about when you come to a fork in the road, take it. It was a famous quote of Yankee catcher Yogi Berra. Years ago when I lived in New York and was working as a research assistant to the author Roger Kahn, we had a lunch interview session with Yogi in New Jersey. It turns out that the quote actually made more sense than one might think. Yogi was giving directions to his home. He had a circular driveway, so when you reached the fork in the road, either fork would take him to his home!

    February 15, 2008
  86. Ross Currier said:

    If Yogi Berra saw a fork in the road, he’d pick it up and eat with it.

    February 15, 2008
  87. John George said:

    Susan- Thanks for verifying that. I was just about to leave from work and I couldn’t remember Yogi’s name. Hopefully, in the whole planning scheme, we will be able to see how allowing for all types of vehicles will be like his driveway- It will get us to the right place. The attitude of looking down upon any person who does things differently than us is what is really counter productive.

    February 15, 2008
  88. Griff Wigley said:

    Ross launched this transportation discussion with an invitation to David L and Kathleen to participate… and their responses understandably focused on motorized transportation.

    He subsequently expressed a willingness to include comments from others related to non-motorized.

    I think it’s proving to be frustrating to try to do both.

    So let’s focus the discussion on motorized/commercial transportation for a week or so, esp. since the Planning Commission is going to be discussing the Transportation Chapter next Tuesday.

    Kathleen’s comments #40 and #51 and Ross’ comment #60 would seem to provide the grist for focusing the discussion.

    February 15, 2008
  89. While I am sure other areas need attention, I am plugging for repairs, resurfacing or whatever you want to call it for Hwy 19, both northeast and west of northfield. It is already in need of emergency repair and I am sure
    without looking at any study, it is one of two truck routes that deliver essentials to Northfield. There, I stayed on topic and everything.

    February 15, 2008
  90. Bill Ostrem said:


    I accept your request to discuss only motor vehicle/commercial transportation issues, but I do so reluctantly, and before clamming up on some topics I’d just like to say a few more things about transportation as a whole.

    I’m puzzled as to why it’s “frustrating” to try to discuss transportation holistically, considering all the modes that people use. It’s certainly more challenging, but it need not be frustrating. I would also argue that it’s necessary.

    I’m also concerned that “commercial” transportation, as you describe it, is limited to motor vehicle transportation. The trips made by employees and customers are crucial to commercial enterprises, and they use every mode of transport there is. Perhaps by “commercial” you mean large semi-trailer trucks and fleet vehicles. Obviously those have special needs that need to be met. No one here has said that they do not.

    Finally, Ross’s initial post, as you said, mentioned only “transportation,” not the specific mode. That is why I and others mentioned all the different types of transportation. Also, Mr. Hasse has not responded to his invitation to participate in this discussion.

    February 15, 2008
  91. Patrick Enders said:

    Here’s a thought to consider (but not an answer):
    In considering ways to accommodate increased motorized/commercial transportation traffic, it is essential to avoid further dissecting our community into isolated pockets of habitation, in the manner that Highway 3 already bisects the city.
    Traffic planning is not my strong suit. I seem to remember Mayor Norquist in Milwaukee advocating a more evenly distributed traffic plan, but not much ever came of it. Have any communities found a way to facilitate traffic growth without high-speed corridors?

    February 15, 2008
  92. kiffi summa said:

    Interesting that you mention Milwaukee,Patrick. The last time i was there, maybe 1-2 years ago, some of their MAJOR elevated highways were being torn down, and rebuilt on the surface. The idea was in support of Keeping the traffic moving through business neighborhoods, thereby supporting those commercial districts, rather than flying by, overhead, to the suburbs.

    Re: comp plan transportation chapter discussion…….surely NON-motorized traffic is a very important part of that discussion, isn’t it , Ross?

    February 15, 2008
  93. Betsey Buckheit said:

    Griff and Ross, all modes of transportation should be discussed as part of the Transportation Chapter of the Comprehensive Plan and a s part of the Transportation Plan.

    I’m not minimizing the challenges we face in improving our road network. We have missed crucial opportunities for building road connections which we now need to remedy and we need to plan for efficient future roads.

    BUT, the road network also serves other modes of transportation and how we plan our roads makes the use of non-motorized transportation more or less viable. Where we put streets, how those routes connect, and how they are designed is hugely important for getting around without a car as well as with one.

    So, as we consider our transportation network, we need to think holistically, as Bill says, and consider “complete streets.”

    February 16, 2008
  94. David Ludescher said:

    A comprehensive plan has to include how semi-tractor trailers (semis) can move in and about Northfield.

    February 16, 2008
  95. Kathleen Doran-Norton said:

    Hoorah for Rep. David Bly on adding a bill to restore the Dan Patch line, which had been erased from every map and any consideration in 2002! According to the Northfield News, Senator Dahle is going to add a corresponding bill in the Senate.

    So, if this were to happen, what kind of changes would be needed in Northfield’s transportation system?

    Where would the station be? Are there sufficient roads, parking, biking and walking trails to accomodate the transit line?

    How would it work in concert with a bus-rapid transit line from Cedar south into Northfield?

    How would those roads and park-n-rides service Dundas? and folks from the surrounding areas?

    What investment opportunities would it bring to downtown Northfield?

    Are there places in Northfield which should change to mixed use zoning if there were a transit station?

    February 16, 2008
  96. […] there are a fair number of bikes in town. During a recent discussion of transportation issues on, the former president of the Northfield Chamber of Commerce […]

    February 16, 2008
  97. David Henson said:

    “A comprehensive plan has to include how semi-tractor trailers (semis) can move in and about Northfield.”

    I think a more accurate statement would be that a comprehensive plan has to include how “freight” gets moved into and about Northfield. Everything, including a business park could be kept smaller in scale (and easier to maintain) (and with higher land values) if a cross-docking station (like a coop) were used to deliver freight – either transferring to dock trucks or some type of local rail freight delivery system. A few businesses in Northfield operate full truckload businesses but most Semis coming in, even to a business park, are only delivering pallet quantities. This would a be a big “change” from how most cities develop but would be easy to coordinate with the Internet and freight tracking. Reducing the overall scale of the city (or keeping the historic scale) would save a great deal in maintenance and set the city apart in terms of livability (including walking and biking).

    February 16, 2008
  98. Kathleen Doran-Norton said:

    Anne – Regarding your post #81, citizens are just as important as gummit folk. Here’s my letter. Feel free to resend it. Or send your own…..

    Rep Bly:

    Thanks for putting the Dan Patch line back on the map, and to you Senator Dahle for offering a corresponding bill in the Senate.

    Be sure to let us know what we can do to overcome opposition or to help you shepherd these bills through.
    It was silly to let the Dan Patch go in 2002.

    As you consider rail transit, the Citizen’s League has done some thinking about alternate funding sources for transit. We know from the Hiawatha line and the Minneapolis ball park that property values increase exponentially where public funding for infrastructure is spent.

    Shouldn’t some of the increased property value that’s created because of public investment return back to the public in the form of supporting maintenance and upgrade of that public investment?

    Think about a value-added tax to support transit….or maybe it’s really a fee for property value enhancement???

    Kathleen Doran-Norton

    February 16, 2008
  99. Paul Fried said:

    Great, positive contributions.
    David Henson:
    Nice twist. Thinking outside the box. Helpful stuff.

    Griff: No talking about bikes or walkers, but could we talk about making the Cannon River into a cannal? The Erie Cannal was pretty successful in its time, and it has that great song….

    February 16, 2008
  100. Anne Bretts said:

    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.

    February 16, 2008
  101. Anne Bretts said:

    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.

    February 16, 2008
  102. 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.

    February 17, 2008
  103. Griff Wigley said:

    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.

    February 18, 2008
  104. 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!

    February 19, 2008
  105. 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.

    February 19, 2008
  106. Jane Moline said:

    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.

    February 21, 2008
  107. Ross Currier said:

    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,


    February 22, 2008
  108. David Henson said:

    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’.

    February 22, 2008
  109. David Ludescher said:

    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.

    February 23, 2008
  110. David Henson said:

    David L – Which consultant said Northfield should make no accommodation for non-motorized transportation ?

    February 23, 2008
  111. Bill Ostrem said:


    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”:

    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.

    February 23, 2008
  112. Larry DeBoer said:

    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?

    February 23, 2008
  113. Felicity Enders said:

    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!

    February 24, 2008
  114. 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.

    February 24, 2008
  115. Jerry Bilek said:

    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?

    February 25, 2008
  116. Bill Ostrem said:

    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. ”

    February 25, 2008
  117. Robbie Wigley said:

    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.

    February 25, 2008
  118. Ray Cox said:

    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.

    February 25, 2008
  119. David Ludescher said:

    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.

    February 25, 2008
  120. Paul Fried said:

    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.

    February 26, 2008
  121. Paul Fried said:

    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?

    February 26, 2008
  122. 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…

    February 26, 2008
  123. Curt Benson said:

    Nick Coleman has a column in today’s Strib telling about the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce’s role in overturning Pawlenty’s veto of the transportation bill:

    February 26, 2008
  124. 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

    Bill Blazar (651) 292-4658
    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.

    February 26, 2008
  125. 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;

    I’ve been an advocate of roundabouts for years, and have blogged about them a couple of times, including today (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!

    February 27, 2008
  126. Jerry Bilek said:

    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.

    February 27, 2008
  127. Paul Fried said:

    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.

    February 27, 2008
  128. Bill Ostrem said:

    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, 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.

    “Ciclovia: Bogota, Colombia”
    Bogota, Colombia, closes off selected streets/highways for Sunday morning use by folks; an amazing video

    “Davis, California: Adventures in a Platinum Bike City”
    Hard to believe this place is in the U.S.

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

    Davis, California

    February 28, 2008
  129. David Henson said:

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

    February 28, 2008
  130. David Henson said:

    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:

    March 1, 2008
  131. Andy Alt said:

    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: 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.

    July 29, 2008
  132. Andy Alt said:

    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.

    July 29, 2008
  133. Andy Alt said:

    Is there any new information regarding the topic of public transportation in the region?

    November 17, 2008
  134. Andy Alt said:

    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 with any questions.

    November 18, 2008

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