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 Response Page - Bernie Lieder Interview - Transportation   

These comments are responses to the questions listed below,
which were generated in regard to the
Bernie Lieder Interview of 2/25/08,

Comments on Bernie Lieder summary

_____On a scale of (0), not urgent at all, to (10), most urgent, should new
transportation revenue be invested where it will do the most to improve
mobility, irrespective of location, funding source, type of transportation, or
agency (state, metro, non-metro, county, or city)?

_____(yes or no) Will it be possible with existing governing structures to cut
across jurisdictional and other barriers and invest limited dollars first on
projects of highest priority?

_____If not, on a scale of (0), not urgent at all, to (10), most urgent, should
new, cross-jurisdictional strategic planning be undertaken that encompasses a ll
major transportation facilities?

John Gunyou (10) (no) (10)
Political considerations are inevitable, but the blatant disregard of policy integrity by the current MnDOT commissioner have raised eyebrows among even the most jaded observers. The instantaneous elevation of the 212 project was probably the most striking. Until MnDOT is returned to professional management that's never going to change.

Bill Frenzel (10) (no) (10)

Joe Mansky (7) (no) (10)
As indicated in the narrative, we no longer have a state planning department that is charged with long-term transportation planning, which must be multi-jurisdictional by its very nature. And as we discussed the other day, we also have no capital budgeting process in Minnesota, which is an integral part of the planning process.

The other issue that you might want to look at in the near future is a revenue source for transportation operations. Given the fact that we are likely to be using more fuel-efficient vehicles as the price of gas increases, the revenue from the gas tax will start to go down (if it isn't already.) We need a new revenue source to replace the gas tax as a means to fund our transportation system. Possible alternatives might include a vehicle fuel-efficiency tax or a carbon tax, which would both raise revenue and promote energy efficiency or tailpipe emissions.

Peter Heegaard (10) (yes)

Ina Erickson (10) (yes)
How many bridges have to fall before we get serious about they safety of our highways? If they exist, they need to be maintained, or replaced as needed.

Donna Anderson (6) (no) (10)

Wayne Jennings (7) (no) (8)
These are complicated issues and difficult to sort out, particularly as several new twists are introduced in this conversation (community wide planning commission, earmarks, etc). Clearly, we have lacked transportation leadership in the department. That’s dismaying to me. I’m glad the transportation bill passed. The roads are a mess, bridges need repair and congestion is bad. But without leadership and comprehensive planning, bills are rushed through without nonpartisan thinking.

Malcolm McDonald
1. Why did the Governor not use line item veto?
2. Why has the press not highlighted the fact that much of the expenditure sections have little to do with safety let alone bridges?
3. Why have we not focused on the fact that the Hennepin County portion of the sales tax will pay for the deficit in running the Hiawatha line? What happens as that deficit increases at a faster rate than the sales tax increases? What about the deficit on the line from Big Lake? Where is the discussion on what source pays for the deficit on the line between Minneapolis and St. Paul?
If we project out these deficits and discover a gap between the growth in the deficit and the sales tax growth, how fast does that gap grow, how big will it be, do we have another financial disaster looming ten, twenty years out?
4. Where is the discussion on how much of the money will pay for soft costs of various kinds, soft costs that would otherwise not be funded least of all in this session given our shortfalls in the growth of revenue versus the growth in costs?

Ray Schmitz
Isn't the issue really a decision on power, if two individuals share a transportation problem, lack of access to a good road, but one of them is part of a group of limited size and the other part of a far larger group, whose problem do we fix?. A letter to the editor recently complained about high taxes for roads and said that if the writer wanted to live in an area he deserved to have good roads and all the bells and whistles and they needed to be provided, he obviously did not see the contradiction in his argument. This is one of those situations where the governmental unit may no longer match the citizenry, which I guess is why we see metro councils or joint powers boards forming, but the comments in the discussion seem more to be power rather than need or joint interests.

Item 5, is this consistent with the change, at least from my perspective, in department heads historically making independent judgments and recommendations to a having a determined administration position and I am sticking to it model. That is, the seeming death of the professional department head position.

Item 9, this issue was apparent at a recent meeting, the roads vs transit, vs airport, vs prt, or if vs is the wrong term at least the lack of coordination among and between the various modalities. For example planning for an expended airport at the same time that light rail is discussed for the same corridor.

Item 11, just finished driving east so have been on toll roads much of the trip, why oppose, it is the ultimate user fee, new systems making paying efficient, it does focus on the actual cost of sprawl and leads to congestion/time pricing. Is this an appropriate area for the caucus to look to lead.

Item 13; hopefully the study will look deeper at the total cost of expansion, value may rise on newly available land but the total costs to the community and the environment may outweigh this increase.

Tremendously important to have a process and it clearly does not exist, except in the sense that the legislature, formally or informally does so, but this is often based on subjective opinions.

Clarence Shallbetter (10) (no) (10)

Scott Halstead (10) (no)
There are outside rating organizations. There should a rating of the effectivenes of our various agencies. They should be rated based upon their effectiveness including the funds allocated, leadership to improve meeting the agency goals, being advocates for their organization, meeting the needs of the residents for those services. Goals would be set by the Agency and Governor subject to review by the legislature and change if approved by veto override.

We need an elected metro council responsible for transportation and transit in the metro area. The state of Minnesota, DOT and existing met council has demonstrated that they can't get the job accomplished. They are posed to proceed with a billion dollar Central Corridor Light Rail project that will not solve any transit issues in the metro area because they get the big federal grant. How sad. We need the authority to impose fees, raise taxes through the election process for those who live and work in the metro area. The fees and taxes should only be for new work, not operational, maintenance subsidies for transit fares. Transit fares should be steadily increased so they cover operational costs. Parking should no longer be free. We have far too much of storm water runoff loaded with chemicals that is damaging our water. New developments end up with storm water ponds that become breeding spots for harmful insects. We need to wisely manage land and encourage alternative to single vehicle trips. It is ridiculous to increase the metro sales tax and use it to operations/transit fares. Users need to pay!!! See my report that I am attaching. It has some interesting new info about our application for federal funds for the Central Corridor.

Chuck Slocum (10) (yes) (10)
A lot has to do with the leadership of the MDOT group and its professional reach with the governor and seems to me that the cross-jurisdictional planning should be ongoing, etc. Dick Braun would be a good source on this topic.

Ed Dirkswager (__) (yes) (0)
Can't fully understand the implications of the terms "most to improve mobility."

Bob Brown (10) (3) (10)
It would be a fatal error to do transportation planning without integrating it with planning in other related areas such as housing, education, utilities (sewer and water), and natural resources. Opening new areas to high speed or convenient transportation will immediately raise demand for housing and that will lead to the need for schools, utilities, and other government services. Transportation planning should also be done is such a way as to minimize the opportunity for speculators to buy up property near proposed major transportation corridors to turn it over for a fast buck.

Charles Lutz (9) (no) (9)

Matt Kane (9) (yes) (___)
First question comment: With the caveat that there will likely be disagreement among different groups and agencies about how best to improve mobility. Don’t just focus on reduced congestion because congestion wanes and then increases with transportation improvements as the economy grows.
Second question comment: I’m cautiously optimistic, but I understand the concern.

Marianne Curry (10) (yes)
1) Give this a ten. However, the degree of urgency for specific projects should be determined by MNDOT.
2) Yes, if MNDOT does its job under new leadership with a lot of pressure from the public (Civic Caucus, included). New structures and new studies are not the answer. They just add costs and cause more delay.
3) Cross-jurisdictional planning is why we have a state department of transportation. If MNDOT lacks authority to evaluate local, county, and regional planning, then the authority ought to be expanded. We don't need another bureaucracy such as a State Planning Agency. Metropolitan Council has largely failed to work across local governments without the teeth to direct funding. The structures are in place. They lack authority to implement. Long range planning is sometimes a process chasing rainbows when the objectives are not specific, measurable, and achievable for lack of adequate funding. The problem is largely that the legislature failed to act for too long in providing adequate funding for transportation. I believe every taxpayer who traverses potholes and sits at a standstill on "freeways" knows that. We must begin to streamline process in this state as revenues decline and population gets older.

Phil Cohen
Having been involved in Transportation- Funding, Planning & Lobbying there is quite a process as you well know going on. Also, at the State Level there are Area Transportation
Planning organizations-including the Twin Cities Metro Council.

The Metro Council process includes:

The Transportation Policy Plan (TPP)
The Transportation Improvement Program (TIP)
The State Transportation Improvement Program (STIP)
The State Metro Systems Plan (TSP)

The Metro Council Planning & Funding Process has this planning and action process.,
Goes thru the following steps that are designed to meet Federal Requriements.

Funding & Program Committee
Technical Advisory Board
Transportation Advisory Board (TAB)
Transportation Committee of the Metro Council
Metropolitan Council.

In addition there is the:

TAB Policy Committee
TAC Planning Committee
Transit Providers Advisory Committee
Central Corridor Management Committee

So- there is no lack of planning, study, recommendations, dicing and slicing going on
And in addition, there is the competition in the:

Regional Solicitation for Federal Grant Awards.

It would seem to me that you might want to consider having an interview session with the Chair of the Transportation Advisory Board to bring there role in this process into the discussion. It would be interesting to find out how they and/or The Metro Council would be involved with the provisions in the new Transportation Bill.

While all the meetings are open to the public- unless you “follow the bouncing ball” one would not have much understanding of how it works.

I spent over 10 years attending and/or participating in the process on behalf on my employer(s) in moving their proposals thru the process.

As far as getting projects funded- there are several that are ready to go. I can cite 2 of them that I was involved with-

1) The completion of TH 610 from TH 169 to I-94 in Brooklyn Park & Maple Grove..
Completion of that segment would take the pressure off TH-694 in that east and west bound traffic to and from east metro and St. Paul would not have to use I-694 as a route to their destination.

2) The so called “Devils” Triangle- TH 169/County 81, 85th Avenue North in Brooklyn Park. That project was scheduled to start in 2007, but the funding was pulled away and shifted to the Crosstown Project. The name “Devils Triangle” speaks for itself as a dangerous and congested tangle of outdated roadways.

Another comment to Planning & Zoning: Any time a large multi-story building is built on any of the quadrants located for example on Highway 100/394- Highway 100/494 or along the 494 Strip in Bloomington- the cry goes out for funding to “re-design” the interchanges and approaches to accommodate the resulting congestion.

It seems that until there is some provision for MnDOT and/or the Regional Planning Agency to control this “self-fulfilling” prophecy-un-controlled development will continue to impact the highway and interchange system’s ability to serve the demands –and thereby demonstrate the need for a remedy.

Lyall Schwarzkopf (10) (no) (10)

Larry Schluter (8) (N) (10)
We have laws and I think limitation in the constitution now on how money can be allocated which has limited and affected the way we can best spend the money.



The Civic Caucus   is a non-partisan, tax-exempt educational organization.   The Core participants include 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.  

The Civic Caucus, 01-01-2008
8301 Creekside Circle #920,   Bloomington, MN 55437.
Verne C. Johnson, chair, 952-835-4549,       Paul A. Gilje, coordinator, 952-890-5220.

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