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