Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Lori Grivna In Her Own Words - Transportation

Continuing with our series on Lori Grivna's candidacy to restore common sense representation to District 50B, here is where Lori stands on transportation issues. Lori's positions on the issues are italicized, with my comments interspersed.

I will advocate for solutions that address the congestion in our district.

1. Transportation basics (roads and bridges) should be funded first to relieve bottlenecks before sinking millions of dollars into rail projects serving very limited geographical areas or as a convenience to visit a casino up north! While the current transportation budget of nearly $5 billion will expand due to the tax increases passed by our legislators, the fact is that transit earmarks have taken away revenue for roads and bridges.

We've talked about this issue repeatedly and the difference is pretty simple. Lori's vision for transportation policy is that it serve people as they actually live their lives. Kate Knuth and her DFL friends would prefer to have us reorder our lives to live on a more "sustainable" model. By this they mean cramming more people into less space, along rail lines, and forcing people from their cars whenever possible.

So you work in Minneapolis, but you'd like to live in the suburbs, or (gasp!) out in the country? You selfish person! Free-flowing highways aren't desirable because they allow people (meaning you and me) to live in the profligate manner that we currently do. Everyone knows that the light rail service currently contemplated will do nothing to relieve congestion in 50B; in order to access the pending Central Corridor, a 50B resident will have to drive to a station on the line (an average of 8-10 miles) or take a bus to downtown Minneapolis (the 4 and the 25 routes will get you there, but it takes around a half hour). How valuable is your time? And if you are driving 8-10 miles to get to the line, how much gas are you really saving? See, the solution for you is to cram yourself into a townhome built along the line. And if you like a little space and would prefer not to live cheek-to-jowl with your neighbors, tough luck.

2. The Metropolitan Freeway System 2007 Congestion Report by the Department of Transportation indicates increased congestion on the main arteries going through our district: 694 and 35W.

If you live in 50B, you don't need a MnDOT report to know how the traffic on 694 and 35W complicates your life. It's not only the time wasted on roads that don't have enough lanes, but the spillover onto parallel roads that plays havoc with life in our communities.

Consider the cost of traffic on 35W. Do you have some spare time? Try making a left-hand turn from Foss Road onto Old Highway 8 in New Brighton during evening rush hour. You can wait at this intersection for 3-5 minutes some days. I know - I've experienced it repeatedly. Traffic can be just as bad on Cleveland Avenue on the Arden Hills side of 35W, especially near County Road E-2, where hundreds of vehicles play musical chairs each day.

Then there's the carnage on 694 betwen 35W and 35E, where a major expressway thins to 2 lanes in each direction, with a complicated interchange with U.S. 10 to boot. Say you have a meeting in White Bear Lake; it should be about a 10-15 minute drive. Go during rush hour and the time can quadruple. MnDOT is well aware of the problem, but nothing will happen to relieve congestion until 2012, which is when the multi-year project might begin.

Lori Grivna will pay attention to these issues. Kate Knuth wants to build trains.

Is there a role for transit? Of course. And Lori identifies something that will actually help.

3. In conversations with district residents, the need for bus service between suburban cities has shown some support. Bus lines retain the flexibility for ridership needs and can be adjusted accordingly to serve our community residents.

Yep, buses. Unhip buses. They are a far better investment than trains. Why? A bus can go places trains cannot. As I mentioned before, you can take a 4 or a 25 from New Brighton to downtown Minneapolis. Those routes have decent ridership. But you could also route buses from New Brighton to the new Medtronic facility in Mounds View. We could also design a route that serves the array of employers (Medtronic, Deluxe, Land O'Lakes, Boston Scientific, Fair Isaac) along the 694 corridor. And we could send buses toward Maple Grove, or the 494 strip, or any number of places where people work. And we could do it for much, much less money than will be spent on light rail infrastructure. A well-designed, augmented bus service with nicer buses running at sensible times could make a huge difference in congestion. It's not going to happen, though. Instead, we're going to get a train that won't help 50B, or 53A, or any of the other districts in the north metro. But we will get to pay for it.

Lori Grivna is thinking about the issues and because she lives in the real world, she is proposing real-world solutions. What does Kate Knuth have to say about it? From Knuth's website:

Transportation: Minnesota is enjoying a growing economy and population, which need smart transportation systems. In addition to maintaining our transportation systems, we must invest in increased public transportation networks as well as access to them.

Lori Grivna is talking about district-specific issues. Kate Knuth is talking about platitudes. Just another reason why Lori Grivna deserves the support of the residents of 50B.

Cross-posted at True North


Daria said...

I'd really like to hear Ms. Pie Eyes attempt to refute your arguments point by point.

Actually she addressed #1 at her last Town Hall Meeting. Someone in the audience questioned the need for the generous per diem state reps receive and she defended it as needed to help pay her transportation costs between her New Brighton home or her day "job" at Hamline University and the Capitol. When asked in followup why she did not utilize public transit which could take her within a block of all destinations within her commute with just a couple of transfers she stated that her busy schedule could not fit in the 1-2 hours per day she would spend riding public transportation. Apparently her time and job are too important to be inconvenienced with utilizing public transit, but if her policies force ordinary citizens out of their cars it is just the small price we must pay to relieve congestion and to save the planet.

I've also never heard proponents of utopian transit explain how public transit would benefit people who needed to drop kids off at multiple schools and then get to work on the other side of town, all within a short time frame. Apparently hypotheticals like this are not covered in graduate school so they must not come up in real life.

Great post - keep 'em coming! The word needs to get out on how poorly the people of 50B have been served by Rep. Knuth and that it would make a big difference if the Pie Eyed Wonder were replaced with a competent conservative like Grivna.

- D

Anonymous said...

Lori Grivna should challenge Knuth to a series of debates each on a single topic like transit, environment, etc. and work material like is in this post into her arguments. Both her original statements and Mr. D's expansions. It would be tough for a thinking person to disagree with any of this. And if we don't have enough thinking people in the Shoreview-Arden Hills area we unfortunately deserve people like Knuth representing us. I would like to believe we are smarter than is reflected by who we elected last time.

Thrifty Scot said...

I second Daria's sentiment - keep 'em coming, Mark.

One quibble, though - any suburb to suburb bus system should be, theoretically, financially self-sustaining. I am coming to think, however, that a small amount of subsidization of those bus riders is not necessarily wrong. Road capacity can be increased not only by building more lanes but also by taking cars off the freeways. As long as the cost of the subsidization is equal to or less than the value added by taking these cars of the road, it can be justified, imo.

Daria... I am convinced that the support for light rail is driven, in part, by the notion YOU will take it and free up more room on the roads for ME. Even people who never intend to use light rail will support it on that basis. And it's not hard to see where they get the idea that such a thing might happen - news stories on the Hiawatha Line rave about record ridership without putting it into the context of the overall miles-traveled picture of the metro area. Miles traveled on light rail are less than 1% of the vehicle-miles traveled in the metro. Light rail fails utterly the subsidization test I stated above - it's gawd awful expensive but achieves next to nothing in relieving traffic congestion. But of course, that's not the intent of light rail advocates, to ease congestion, is it?