Congestion on the roadways of an expanding Twin
cities region is a major public concern. Not only is more time spent commuting
to jobs but the movement of goods is slowing with adverse impact on the
economy. Complicating the challenge is the fact that the Twin Cites region is
expanding outward from the core seven counties to fifteen in Minnesota and
three in Wisconsin.
Our conclusions about what to do rest on the premise
that market forces will continue to have the greatest influence on how much
and how fast traffic congestion worsens. The bulk of this congestion results
from the choices residents are making to drive alone and to make more trips
each day rather than from population growth.
Continuous outward expansion finds regional job
related trip making extending from seven into eighteen counties. As jobs and
homes disperse they utilize a highway network that has not significantly
expanded in the past twenty years. As a consequence a growing number of
residents find themselves spending more time commuting during peak commute
periods. Yet the popularity of automobiles and their affordability makes them
the dominant form of transportation. Not only do people value auto ownership
but they prefer to drive alone, enjoying the freedom, independence, privacy
and convenience the private automobile offers.
To make significant progress on congestion will
require not only more roads and additional transportation/transit services but
significant incentives for employers and commuters to facilitate and reward
use of transportation services as an alternative to driving alone.
Some planners offer another transportation vision of
life in the Twin Cities for those who prefer to take a transportation service
and leave the driving to someone else. They vision future residential and job
development occurring along permanent ribbons of fixed guide way transit of
LRT and Commuter Rail with the hope that this development will eliminate use
of the auto by many people. They believe that movement by rail is more
attractive than by buses and that with the fixed guide ways the public will be
required to run vehicles more frequently, thereby giving the commuter many
optional times. However, this alternative largely serves trips to the two
downtowns that account for only 15 percent of the jobs. This alternative also
assumes the public will pay for all the capital costs and most of the
operating costs. Charging user fees to cover just the operating costs will
make it a non-competitive alternative to the auto and put it beyond the
financial reach of much of the population. Not only do these planners and
their supporters view this transportation alternative as more desirable but
they see it as significantly affecting private development choices for homes
and businesses to the extent that it will impact the overall development
pattern of the region. We reject this vision.
Leadership for untangling congestion must come from
Our recommendations start with the conclusion that
only the state can untangle much of the congestion the region is experiencing.
With nearly 70% of the stateís population soon to be within these 15 county
metropolitan boundaries, we see no practical alternative but to assign primary
responsibility to the state. Most of the major roadways that are of greatest
concern are state highways. In addition the state is the only level of
government with the authority necessary to modify the framework for
decision-making and to raise the funds to finance needed investments.
Untangling congestion requires focusing
responsibility for leadership in one elected state official- the Governor- who
should become primarily responsible for addressing the congestion issue over
the short and long term. It also requires a change in the roles of the
Metropolitan Council, the counties and the cities in road and
transportation/transit service decision making and service delivery.
We recommend the Governor be assisted by a
Transportation Commission which should not have any operating
responsibilities. While the Metropolitan Council currently performs some of
this role, its jurisdiction is limited to only seven of the fifteen counties
in the expanded metropolitan region in this state. In addition, the Council
has major responsibility for operation of the major bus system, contracting
with suburban transit operating districts, and operation of Metro Mobility
transportation services for the frail elderly and handicapped, as well as
operating authority for sewage collection and treatment, and for housing and
development grants. We concluded that expanding the existing authority of the
Metropolitan Council to include the fifteen counties and to become the
transportation policy advisory body to the Governor was unlikely to receive
legislative support. If this were possible, however, the Council's
transit/transportation service operating responsibilities should be shifted to
the state so that for transportation purposes it would focus only on
To untangle congestion, the state must have
responsibility for all the major components of the solution. Therefore, its
role must expand from just major roadways to include responsibility for all
major components of congestion management including the location and level of
transportation/transit services. These include express bus services, those
that encourage car/van pooling, park and ride lots/ramps, and shuttles to
employment centers. Finally, only the state can provide necessary tax and
economic incentives to insure involvement by major regional employers.
Our recommendations look toward increased
investments in highways, especially for the elimination of bottlenecks on
freeways and expressways and for systematic set aside of land for future
roadway development. Investment is also needed to develop many more
conveniently located park and ride facilities, for "super lanes" and for
significant test of transportation services that utilize large and small buses
and car/van pools designed to provide service not only to the downtowns but
for people that live and work in the suburbs.
A longer term strategy for congestion reduction
requires significant changes in the land use and the road access framework to
assure land is set aside in many cities and towns for conveniently located
park and ride facilities, service drives along freeways, and limits on access
to major roadways, especially those radiating out on the edges of the region.
Our recommendations call for state leadership to indicate which roadways will
require changed land use and access rules and action by cities and counties to
modify their land use and transportation plans to reflect the need to preserve
lands for this movement and for convenient operation of a set of
transportation service alternatives.
We cannot rely only on additions to roadway
capacity. Steps need to be taken to build the ridesharing and express bus
service to increase vehicle occupancy as one of the congestion reduction
objectives. New services that utilize many additional park and ride lots and
shuttles going to many suburban job destinations hold considerable promise.
To achieve the increases in vehicle occupancy and to
get new services developed we recommend the state strengthen and adopt a set
of powerful incentives and dis-incentives directed to employers and commuters
to provide and use these transportation service alternatives.
Added investments will require additional revenue
for capital expansion, increased operating costs and for tax incentives. We
concluded, however, that transportation is a function that can and should pay
for itself from increases in user fees and by revenue from those who benefit
from the investments.
Additional revenue will require increases in
traditional user fees such as the gas tax and the introduction of congestion
related pricing on fast moving super lanes of roadways for those who choose to
drive alone. Landowners and cities that benefit from increased land value on
land adjoining interchanges should further contribute part of the capital gain
derived from the public investment in roads and interchanges at access points
and in transit station for part of the revenue needed to pay for the freeway,
transit and access improvements.
REPORT ON UNTANGLING CONGESTION
Untangling congestion in the Twin Cites region is a
huge undertaking. It will require years of concentrated effort and substantial
increases in resources. In the end it may be possible to only contain the
growth of congestion to the current levels. Even this, however, would be a
Major elements in our proposal:
1. Freeway and Expressway improvements are key
to congestion management including bottleneck elimination, some increased
highway lane capacity especially for "super lanes" and the set aside of land
for future roadway development.
Improvements that are needed include:
a.) Eliminate bottlenecks on freeways and
expressways inside the I-494/610/694 beltway.
b) Develop many conveniently located park
and ride lots adjoining freeway interchanges. Such lots/ramps need
to be specifically included in city land use plans.
Develop super lanes on freeways. These lanes should be available at no
cost to buses, vanpool and carpools but charge variable fees tied to the
levels of congestion for those who drive alone and choose to use them.
Provide land for service drives and for access to freeways for the
long term especially on the freeways radiating into the outer portion of
the expanding region outside the I494-I694-T.H. 610 beltway. This should
become a responsibility of cities and counties who authorize development
under guidelines set by the state.
Add lanes on some existing freeways such as I-494, I-694, T.H. 100,
and T. H. 169. Development of another beltway around the existing one is
not advisable. It will only add to the problem of congestion and the
dispersal of trips.
2. Transportation/transit Services that build
on the existing ridesharing and express bus services offer the greatest
promise for increased vehicle occupancy essential to congestion reduction
throughout the region. Added development of new park and ride lots with
shuttle services to many suburban employment locations also will help
address more than 80 percent of the congestion challenge of the region. .
More transportations services, including bus
transit must be part of the untangling congestion package. One of the
greatest challenges in reducing congestion, however, is determining what
transportation/transit services will be effective. Less than ten percent
of the work trips currently use alternatives to driving alone.
Unfortunately, their use continues to decline and their market continues
We concluded that fixed rail as a significant
congestion reliever is a myth that must be destroyed. This myth is very
popular today. It appears to offer the promise that many will get out of
their cars, get off the congested roadways and take rail transit, thereby
reducing congestion. This region is in the fortunate position of testing
the theory without building another mile of LRT or Commuter rail since we
can test the impact of rail transit on congestion after the Hiawatha LRT
line is built. Consequently we recommend the state and region not make any
commitment to building any additional fixed rail lines until an assessment
of the impact of this service is completed four years after the line is
Fixed rail lines will do little to reduce
congestion in this region because of the dispersed and low density
development of both jobs and homes. The bulk of the growing congestion
challenge in this region will be experienced in the suburbs where 80% of
the homes and jobs are located. These scattered and dispersed trips cannot
be significantly served on any network of fixed rail lines.
A further complication to a fixed guide way
strategy in the Twin Cites is that it will require nearly twice the number
of routes and miles to serve two downtowns rather the one downtown found
in most metropolitan areas. This occurs because of the historic tendency
to serve the economic and political interests in the two centers. A
doubling of the capital investment and operating subsidies needed for a
fixed rail strategy in this region will further depress investments in
other more useful transportation/transit services.
Both downtowns are experiencing increases in the
cost of parking because of the limited amounts of increasingly expensive
land and the construction of expensive parking ramps. Escalating parking
charges, however, are a significant incentive for alternatives to driving
alone and should encourage additional car and vanpools and increase the
demand for express bus services. Incentives from employers or the city
that reduces the bus fare or the cost of parking for carpools/vanpools can
further speed up the trend. Corridors that anticipate large numbers of
buses and van/carpools are prime candidates for development of separate
"super lanes" to speed up movement by these alternatives. Such lanes might
either be on existing freeways or on separate rights of way such as
abandoned railroads right of way.
Instead of a system of fixed rail guideways this
region needs to dramatically expand many effective alternatives to driving
alone and take steps, with incentives and disincentives, to reward and
optimize their use. Some of these will use large vehicles while many more
will use smaller ones. Nearly all of them assume that part of a personís
trip to work will be by private auto and part by a transportation service
or it will be by people riding together. Some of the services that need to
be developed or expanded include:
Employer sponsored shuttle services between park and ride ramps and
large employment concentrations and employer sponsored car and van pool
matching with their own employees and employees of adjoining employers.
Small vehicle reverse commute services between homes in the inner
cities and suburban jobs.
Express bus services between park and ride lots in the suburbs and the
downtowns or other employment locations where there is paid parking. These
transit services are an alternative to paying for increasingly expensive
parking. Financing to cover most of the operating costs for these services
might come from peak period fares only slightly lower than the price of
Local circulation transit service connecting the increasing number of
homes around the downtowns with downtown jobs. These services might use
smaller buses or even test a small vehicle personalized rapid transit
Many bus routes radiating from the downtowns
follow old streetcar routes that had substantial historic transit
ridership from adjoining lower to middle income residents or from
higher density apartment development. Consequently many miles of
streets where frequent all day and weekend service exists are
candidates for concentrated residential development and re-development
in the region. Residents of new higher density development along
streets such as Hennepin, Nicollet, Lake St., Chicago, Central, and
Broadway in Minneapolis, along University Ave. in St. Paul, Broadway
in Robbinsdale, and Excelsior Blvd. in St. Louis Park and Hopkins may
be primary targets of opportunity for development and re-development.
Other areas such as in the large and growing
residential communities surrounding the downtowns where much of the
population works downtown might be good candidates for new small bus
service or for a test of Personalized Rapid Transit (PRT).
Focusing increased densities along miles of
streets with frequent bus service rather than along new fixed guide
way lines will compliment the existing service, grow demand for
service to fill up empty seats, and justify the gradual increased
investment in additional service.
3. Powerful incentives and disincentives to
employers and commuters that facilitates and encourages use of alternatives
to driving alone are needed to significantly take hold of the congestion
challenge in this region.
Significant progress toward congestion reduction
requires the introduction and use of some powerful incentives and
disincentives to encourage the use of transportation /transit and
ridesharing services and to make the investment in them productive and
worthwhile. Additional incentives and disincentives will increase the demand
for these services which as they increase will make them more convenient and
responsive to commuter trip needs.
Some advocate tying the style and types of
development to transportation/transit services as a way of increasing use of
the transit and decreasing driving alone. They hope that so called "Transit
Related Smart Growth" that relies on an investment in fixed guideway transit
in the long run will grow a market of customers to fill the empty seats of
new transportation/transit services built years before much of the new
housing is built. This planning model, however, ignores the location of most
jobs in the region and the inability of fixed guideway routes to serve the
multiple origins and destinations typical of the Twin Cites area. One
consequence of this strategy is that huge amounts could be spent for years
to run nearly empty vehicles in the hope that some day there will be
sufficient demand from the new residential development to cover a
significant part of the cost of these services and to reduce the level of
single driver auto dependence.
A strategy that encourages and assists employers
region wide to organize rides for work trips and provide shuttle services
from new park and ride facilities will be a much more effective congestion
management strategy than the "Transit Related Smart Growth" approach of
linking new development in the region to transportation/transit services.
Examples of incentives designed to reduce peak
period trips and to more fully use the seats available in cars and busesinclude:
Employer organized car pooling and van pooling.
Financial rewards for carpooling, van pooling and use of public
transit, including substantial reductions in parking charges for
carpooling and bus fares in the downtowns and wherever there are charges
for parking or significant amounts of transit service.
c. Telecommuting or tele working so the
place of work in whole or in part is outside the usual office location
at home or at a remote work center.
d. Preferential, close to the door parking
e. Convenient close to the door transit
f. Four day work weeks.
g. Staggered start and ending work times
that moves times to the edge of the peak period. .
Examples of disincentives that will reduce trip
making and longer trips in the peak period or increase use of alternatives
to driving alone include:
a. Limited, convenient parking - fewer
parking spaces than employees.
b. Parking charges where parking is "free"
or increased charges where pay parking already exists.
c. Peak hour pricing on super lanes for
those who drive alone but free for buses, vanpools and certified
d. Freeway metering designed to reward
shorter trips and discourage longer trips in the region including
those originating in outer portions of the region.
e. Special licenses
Employers and commuters encouragement could come
from increased tax credits and other financial incentives for those who
adopt their own incentive systems to offset the cost of new or additional
4. Substantial increases in existing sources of
funding and adoption of new forms of funding that capture part of the
benefit from transportation improvements are needed to pay for the capital
expansion, increased operating costs, and for tax incentives are urgently
Congestion will only get worse unless spending
increases for additional roads and transportation/transit services.
We concluded, however, that transportation is a
function of government that can and should be nearly totally self
supporting. Except for transportation services required by those who
cannot afford an auto, all other parts of this system appear capable of
finding funds from either those who use the facilities or services or from
those who benefit from them.
What is needed now, is a significant broadening
of the source of funding to include funds from those who directly benefit
from these improvements and increases from those who use the facilities.
We recommend the State legislature, with the
support of the Governor, do the following in 2003-2004:
A. Increase the state gas tax by six to eight
cents per gallon.
B. Request the federal government increase the
federal gas tax by 3 to 4 cents per gallon with this and greater
increases in revenue allocated back to states based on the amount
collected and with a reward to states that are taking the initiative to
address congestion with their own resources or who are using new user
and benefit financing arrangements.
C. Modestly increase vehicle license fees to
make up for a small portion of the revenue lost from reductions made in
D. Adopt a system of user fees based on the
level of congestion during the peak period for travel by drive alone
autos and trucks on super lanes developed for the use of buses, vanpools
and certified carpools.
E. Adopt a new set of benefit charges based on
a percentage of the land value increase realized by landowners and of
increased taxes obtained by local government from new development as a
consequence of access around freeway interchanges. A similar set of
benefit charges should also apply to development that occurs next to any
fixed guide way transit stops.
F. Use borrowed funds for emergencies and
obtain a large amount of capital from borrowing to enable a speedup of
the construction and equipment program needed to eliminate some
bottlenecks, build super lanes, expand lanes, build park and ride
facilities, and purchase transportation service vehicles to get the
expanded program well underway. This borrowing, however, should be tied
to increases in new forms of financing and increases in existing funding
sources over the next five years sufficient to generate the amounts of
revenue needed to make the program self supporting. We further recommend
the use of this bonding be limited to five years during which bond
payments would come from funds collected from an increase in the sales
tax dedicated to transportation bond retirement sufficient to pay for
5. Leadership to reduce congestion in the
region should primarily rest with the Governor and the Legislature. The
Metropolitan Council, counties and cities should continue to exercise
significant roles but these need to be clarified and modified to meet the
congestion challenge and eliminate the paralysis that currently exists.
A. Currently decision making about the regional
transportation/transit system is very fragmented between numerous state
agencies, the Metropolitan Council, fifteen counties and hundreds of
At the state level no one is currently
responsible for developing and advancing a plan for congestion reduction
even as state agencies have responsibility for some of the roadways and
transit ways and for many of the financial decisions.
Governor proposes a budget and any special program initiatives,
while the Legislature makes policy, spending, and tax decisions
subject to the Governorís veto and legislative override.
A number of state executive branch agencies
have important roles. The Department of Transportation (MnDOT)
is becoming primarily responsible for freeway and expressway
development and maintenance in the region, for highway financing and
right of way acquisition operating through a central office and three
district offices in rural Minnesota. It also has responsibility for
providing some transit assistance outside the seven county core of the
region, and for construction of LRT and Commuter Rail lines. However,
it is not responsible for transit policy, the acquisition of buses,
for funding transit operating deficits, or for the development of park
and ride lots except along state highways on the perimeter of the
region. Other state agencies such as the Departments of Public Safety,
Planning, Revenue, andFinance provide many information,
policy, enforcement, and support services.
In the seven county core of the metropolitan
area there are conflicting responsibilities for major components of a
congestion reduction strategy by the Metropolitan Council and the seven
counties while the more than 200 cities have substantial influence on land
uses and transportation facility locations. They also can hold up action
on improvements by not approving them.
Metropolitan Council is responsible for a regional transportation
plan but not for freeway planning or funding, allocation of federal
transportation improvement funds for minor arterial roads, transit,
bikeways, congestion management air quality, and transportation historic
Through its Metro Transit Division the
Council is an operating organization that collects and spends federal
transit grants, owns and operates the largest portion of transit
services in the region including buses, garages, bus maintenance, the
employment and training of bus drivers and mechanics. The Council also
contracts with four suburban transit operating agencies representing
one or more cites to supply transit services on the western and
southern edge of the seven country area. It also plans and operates,
under contract, Metro Mobility Transportation Service, a dial-a-ride
specialized service for the handicapped.
As part of its historic role the Council
owns and operates or leases a number of park and ride lots and
provides bus shelters in the core of the region through its Metro
Transit Division. It is also responsible for a car pool and van pool
assistance program through its Metro Commuter Services division.
The Council also may declare an issue to be
of metropolitan significance and intervene to become a body that
resolves the issue. However, they rarely use this power on
transportation location and development disputes.
are responsible for the planning, ownership, and
maintenance of a network of minor arterials as well as other historic
roadways, for expenditure of considerable federal and state aid, and for
the levy of property taxes for county roads and bridges.
Each of the seven counties in the core of
the region have constituted themselves as a Railroad Authority for the
purpose of acquiring abandoned rail lines for transportation
purchases. They also jointly participate on a regional Rail Authority
to plan Light Rail lines along the lines that some of the counties
have purchased. In some cases these abandoned lines are developed as
bike and walking trails.
Counties through their Jobs, Welfare, and
Health/hospital departments are also major purchasers of
transportation services for clients of their programs.
Cities directly influence the location, development and traffic
operation of facilities and services designed to affect congestion. Their
approval is required for state and county highway projects to proceed
within their boundaries including purchase of rights of way. They also
determine allowable land uses near and adjoining interchanges of freeways
and of service roads alongside them, and they are responsible for
subdivision of land, for planning, development and maintenance of local
streets, the regulation of traffic including handicapped pick up and bus
stop areas, the regulation of taxicabs, and enforcement of traffic laws.
Cites and some counties often actively
encourage job and property development or re-development. This
includes assembling land parcels or providing financial incentives
that encourage specific types of development at freeway or rail
station intersections. On the edge of the region and in smaller rural
towns development of a major highway around a town may result in
substantially increased land values near a new interchange and a
decrease in land values or even abandonment of commercial activities
in the old centers. Re-development efforts may also be tied to new
roads or to rail stations in the hope that a major transportation
facility will spur desired residential or commercial development. As a
consequence some cities and counties actively lobby the state and the
council to build specific roads, LRT or Commuter Rail lines, provide
interchanges or stations at specific locations, or hold up road
relocation approvals until various city interests are satisfied.
School Districts operate or contract for
one of the largest transportation services in the state. In addition,
they provide parking for the staff and provide a growing amount of
parking for students.
B. Responsibilities between various levels of
state, regional and local government must be changed to clarify and focus
responsibility for congestion management decisions, to change land use and
road access rules, and provide funds needed to address the congestion
Changes should insure land uses along and at
intersections of freeways and expressways are compatible with congestions
reduction strategies, insure funding is focused on the congestion
challenge, and that regional and local funding provides transportation
services for those who cannot afford to own or cannot operate a vehicle.
The Legislature, with the support of the
Governor, must reorganize transportation/transit responsibilities, change
road access rules, broaden the base of transportation financial support
with increased use of user fees and by collection of some of the benefits
from transportation investment, and provide additional funds needed to
address growing congestion in an expanding region that is the economic
engine of the state.
The state must clarify and assume major
responsibility for untangling congestion by taking the following steps:
A first and essential step is to assign primary
responsibility to the Governor for preparing and advancing a
transportation congestion reduction plan to the Legislature by February
2004 with progress reports to the Legislature every two years after that.
A Transportation Commission should assist the Governor in this effort.
More specifically, we recommend, the Governor
propose and the Legislature take the necessary steps to:
Create a 15 member Transportation Commission with specific
responsibility for Transportation/transit policy planning that focuses on
congestion in the 15 county metropolitan region in Minnesota. Membership
of this commission should include seven members representing equally
populated sub-areas of the 15 counties and 7 others at-large appointed by
the Governor. The sub-area or territorial members might be from two to
three senatorial districts or from sectors of the region to assure that
half of the members have familiarity with the jobs, housing settlement,
retail services and traffic problems in each part of the region. Their
nominations might be suggested or reviewed by the cities and counties
within the sub-area or territory. All members should serve a term
co-terminus with that of the Governor. The Chair of the Commission should
be appointed by the Governor, serve at the pleasure of the Governor, and
be the fifteenth voting member of the Commission.
The Governor, with assistance of the
Commission and the Governorís office staff would be charged with
developing and recommending a transportation policy plan for the 15
country region that focuses on congestion relief and the riding needs
of residents in the region. The Commission would prepare an annual
report on the levels of congestion on each major roadway, the use of
alternatives to driving alone, the cost-effectiveness of investments
to reduce congestion, funding required to achieve the plan, sources of
funding for the program, and progress with its implementation.
In performing its tasks the Commission would
be able to call upon any state, regional, or local units of government
regarding their plans, travel demand studies, or other information
necessary for development of facilities, their maintenance and
The Governor with the assistance of the
Commission should consider the options for congestion reduction and
make the tradeoffs between long term investments in more freeway
lanes, super lanes for multi-passenger vehicles, in fixed guideways,
park and ride lots, large and small buses, changes to the fixed route
bus system, the use of car and van pools, and the adequacy of
incentives and dis-incentives designed to meet policy objectives.
The Governor and Commission should:
Identify and prioritize federal funds the state will spend in the
next five years on regional facilities and transportation services in
the eight county area that is part of the regional commuter shed
surrounding the seven county metropolitan area.
Receive all federal transit assistance funds in the 15 counties in
the regional commuter shed and allocate them to designated capital
projects and for transit operating contracts.
Review and approve the land use policies and plans of cities and
counties to assure the state interest in state/regional movement is
achieved by development of many park and ride lots, super lanes, and
Such plans should note the official
mapping that legally sets aside land for service roads or expanded
freeways before development is permitted, commitments by cities
and counties to pay for land required to develop service roads
along adjoining freeways, and the timing, location and financing
of interchanges or use of fixed guide ways that will be effected
in these plans. The authority of cities and counties outside the
Municipal Service Area of the Metropolitan Council to approve
plats and issue building permits should be related to state
approval of the adequacy of land use and transportation plans.
Assign responsibility to Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT)
for ownership, maintenance and operations of capital facilities and
equipment used in regional transportation including park and ride
facilities, major roadways, any fixed guideways, and buses used for peak
period transportation/transit services in the region.
MnDOTís responsibility for many operational
components of the regional system would increase as the state assumes
responsibility for regional transportation policies, financial
decisions, and the development of the regional system of roads and
public transportation/transit services in peak commuter periods. MnDOT
would own and be responsible for these facilities and equipment but
would be encouraged to contract with others for their maintenance and
The proposed re-organization would shift
to MnDOT responsibility for:
a. Construction, and maintenance of
super lanes for high occupancy vehicles, certified carpools, van
pools, buses of various sizes, and possibly trucks, and
enforcement of their use.
b. Continued ownership, operation, and
maintenance of freeways and major expressways. All two lane state
trunk highways and any expressways the state determines will not
be part of the regional system will be transferred by MnDOT to the
counties over the next ten years
c. Ownership and development of all rail
rights of way that may be used for fixed guideways including LRT,
busways, and for "super lanes in the future. This requires
transfer of all such rights of ways owned by the Counties to MnDOT
that the state determines should be part of the state/regional
system. Counties would be permitted to sell any rail rights of way
not transferred or to use them for any trails or bikeways the
counties choose to develop and maintain as part of their park
d. Ownership, development and
maintenance of all park and ride facilities adjoining freeways
that provide for easy transfer from driving alone to multi use
vehicles (cars used in carpools, vans, small buses and large
buses). This anticipates transfer to MnDOT of all existing
lots/ramps owned by the Metropolitan Council that adjoin regional
e. Ownership of all publicly owned large
and small buses that primarily serve people commuting in the peak
periods. This anticipates transfer of most of the existing fleet
of buses from the Metropolitan Council in addition to bus garages
and maintenance facilities that support these buses. MnDOT would
own the buses and facilities but would contract for their
operations with the Metropolitan Council, or any of the existing
single or multiple city transit operating agencies such as
Southwest Metro, Maple Grove Transit, Plymouth or Minnesota Valley
or with any others that might be organized.
3. Supply the funds required for regional
road and transportation services used for congestion reduction
including all state owned freeways and expressways, fixed guideways,
buses used for peak period transportation services, and park and ride
lots. This includes:
a. Capital funds necessary to build
needed roads, transportation/transit facilities including buses,
and park and ride lots.
b. Operating funds for road maintenance,
for transportation mobility services to the physically disabled
and those who cannot afford to own or operate an auto that are
provided by the counties and by the Metropolitan Council, and for
operating subsidies for transit operations.
The state needs to determine the amount
users should pay for fuel taxes, licenses, transit farebox charges,
congestion pricing fees, and the amount of revenue to be collected
from cities and landowners that financially benefit
from increased land values in areas around
freeway interchanges and fixed guideway stations, and from transit
fare boxes. The mixture of taxes, fees and benefit charges should be
sufficient to address growing congestion in the expanded region.
The state should also provide funding or
devise a funding system for the operation of transportation/transit
services for those who cannot afford to own and/or operate their own
4. Establish sufficient incentives and
disincentives needed to accomplish congestion reduction including
those that encourage employers to modify working hours or the use of
transportation services such as car and van pooling, shuttling to work
from park and ride lots, or use of regular route express buses.
5. Require school districts to limit land
purchases for student parking only to space that accommodates
certified carpools and/or require them to charge for parking at rates
that will discourage students from driving alone and increase use of
district provided school buses.
6. Develop an interstate compact with the
state of Wisconsin relating to major roadway development and river
crossings and the use of congestion related user fees in the three
county area adjoining Minnesota that is part of the regional commuter
We recommend the role of the Metropolitan
Council be modified to:
1. Become an advisory body to the state for
regional transportation facilities and transportation/transit services
in the seven county metropolitan area, especially within the most
urbanized portions of the region.
2. Prioritize fiscally constrained federal
funds on the maintenance of existing facilities and on projects that
reduce congestion in the seven county metropolitan area consistent
with state plans for regional facilities and services. The Council
should continue to do this in conjunction with its Transportation
3. Become actively responsible for timely
resolution of conflicts between cities, counties and the state within
the seven country metropolitan area when disputes arise over access to
regional facilities, their location, rights of way, and steps to
mitigate their impact on adjoining property.
4. Change their role in operating buses to
whatever level the state contracts with them for peak and non-peak
regular route service and for Metro Mobility. The Council would
further determine whether services it contracts to provide will be
done by their employees or by contract with other operators such as is
done with Metro Mobility.
The Council should continue to be
responsible for coordination and uniformity of transit farebox
policies such as transfers and farebox charges consistent with state
plans and funding to insure services are interconnected and integrated
within the seven county area. It should also make recommendations to
the state on these policies for any transportation/transit services
provided in the territory in the expanded region outside the seven
county jurisdiction of the Council.
Approve the location and development of local arterial roads designed
to connect trips between cities in the metropolitan area and prioritize
constrained federal funds the Council determines are needed in the next
five years on these arterial roads in the core seven county metropolitan
We recommend the state modify the role of
1. Substantially increase their
responsibility for the purchase of transportation services for those
who cannot drive or cannot afford an automobile. This is consistent
with the preeminent role of the county as a provider of human welfare,
job, and health services.
2. Eliminate their authority to plan and
purchase railroad right of ways for passenger rail purposes and
transfer county acquired railroad lands to the state that the state
determines should be used for the regional system.
3. Increase the miles of minor arterials and
collector roads owned and maintained by counties in the expanded 15
Minnesota metropolitan region by transfer in the next ten years of all
two lane state trunk highways and portions of multi-lane trunk
highways the state determines are not part of the regional system.
We recommend the state modify the role of
1. Development and adoption of land use
plans that reserve lands for frontage roads and park and ride lots
next to freeways and for other regional transportation facilities
identified by the state.
Cities should provide for land set aside by
official mapping or other devices that preserve these areas from
development for at least a decade. State decisions on where to locate
or build interchanges should be contingent on the set aside of land
for service roads and committed local funding for service road and
2. Provide transportation alternative
services for those who cannot drive or cannot afford to own a car as
they desire either by themselves or jointly with other nearby cities.
These services might include transportation/transit services operating
in the evenings and on weekends. These services may be provided under
contract with the state. They may utilize small buses provided by the
state, vehicles and services supplied by taxi companies, or from
contracts with private providers.
3. Work with employers to develop
transportation services that collect commuters at home or at park and
ride facilities and transport them to large and moderate sized
employment centers. This may consist of small vehicle service for both
peak and non-peak period employment, particularly to the many suburban
Civic Caucus is making extensive use of computer and internet
technology to make it possible for people to participate without
having to attend meetings. The Civic Caucus believes
its approach might serve as a prototype for other organizations.
In addition to
the core group listed below,
some 750 others receive weekly
summaries of Civic Caucus meetings, background memos on public
affairs, and ongoing invitations to share their thoughts. That
group, which includes all legislators, is receiving today's
statement. If you would like to be included in Civic
Caucus e-mailings, send a request to
The Civic Caucus
is a non-partisan,
tax-exempt educational organization. The Core participants
who crafted this report included persons of varying political
persuasions, reflecting years of leadership in politics and
business. Click here
to see a short personal background of each.
Verne C. Johnson, chair; Lee Canning, Charles Clay, Bill Frenzel,
Paul Gilje, Jim Hetland, John Mooty, Jim Olson,
Wayne Popham and John Rollwagen.