1._7.2 average____ On a scale of (0) most
disagreement, to (5) neutral, to (10) most agreement, what is your
view on MnDOT's involving stakeholders (cities, counties, rail
advocates, trucking interests, contractors, consultants) as it
prepares its transportation plans?
2. _7.9 average____ On a scale of (0)
most disagreement, to (5) neutral, to (10) most agreement, should
MnDOT's plans set priorities among various road, rail and bus projects
based on what is possible with limited funds, rather than compiling
needs from stakeholders without setting priorities among them?
3. _9.0 average____ On a scale of (0)
most disagreement, to (5) neutral, to (10) most agreement, should
priorities take into consideration future operating expenses, as well
as capital expenses?
Robert J. Brown (7) (10) (10)
I am not sure he is dealing with reality – he seems to not recognize
the complexity and power of the special interest groups, both
governmental units and private interests. It was disappointing to see
that he did not raise the issue of the need for a State Planning
agency to integrate transportation planning with other public
interests. Another concern is that he needs to realize the real long
term costs of maintenance of all the modes of transportation. The
federal interstate system is a perfect example of the states being
willing to assume responsibility for maintenance after the feds paid
most of the initial cost of construction. It is the long term
maintenance costs that are now creating enormous tax problems. There
should be a complete review of ways to pay for public transportation
which would include the real user contribution vs. public costs for
all modes – automobile, bus, rail, air and water transportation. I
suspect we subsidize the individual driver as much or more that mass
transit, but I don’t really know the answer. One final point - I am
still an advocate for Personal Rapid Transit in the metro area. This
concept has never been seriously considered here even though the idea
was developed at the U. of M.
You do such great work. Stimulating. Great resource for “wise” old
guys like me.
I chose not to answer your questions, not because I didn’t think they
were appropriate, but because I didn’t learn much from Sorel’s
responses other than he had an answer to every question and not much
of a preamble.
The Governor has learned well how MN’s problems, its resources, his
ideology, and his office can be summarized around clichés. He has what
for most will be a believable answer to every question and a response
to every concern. You won’t always agree, but you’ll know he’s thought
about it and decided. He did not express a depth of understanding of
what’s going on in the world, national, and regional economy and what
long-range role the state (and local) and national government must
play in building MN’s capacity to be in the future what we like to
believe we were in the past.
Without that, how do we develop an investment plan for transportation?
Oberstar has spent a lifetime on the range, with Blatnik, and with our
gas tax dollars think doing transportation policy like the kid in a
Chisholm sandbox with depression/WWII era toy truck and train that he
once was. More is always better. And it’s good politics. He can also
see the future of technology in transportation and he can see through
the corporate self-interest in perpetuating the past. But, as policy
advisers, we should be asking what business he has dictating the
future of MN transportation, land use planning, investment decisions,
economy, environment, etc. In the absence of some vision from MN
private/public leadership and in the presence of a big state deficit
and an economic recovery and investment act, he’ll get away with it.
Minnesota is not what it used to be. Why? What do we want to be? What
can we at the state level do about it? What must we demand the federal
government do about it? If we knew the answers to those questions we
could assess the merits of a state transportation plan. I saw some
reference to the State Planning Agency in the questions. So, what’s it
doing these days?
Bob Green (0) (10) (10)
Marianne Curry (8) (10) (10)
Question 1: Collaboration is wonderful; however, if it merely produces
a larger laundry list of "wishes" without addressing the tougher
question of setting priorities within budgetary constraints, then the
process is a waste of time and sure to disappoint everyone.
Question 3: As I have said over and over again, failure to take into
account the future fiscal obligations of Operational & Maintenance
Costs gets us into trouble by resulting in "tails" for Minnesota
biennial budgets that consider just Capital Expenditures. That is
basically dishonest and not transparent. Case in point: the current
severe shortfall in transit farebox revenues, which of course must be
covered by subsidies from the General Fund or elsewhere. If we expand
LRT, it just means more of the same subsidies if there is an
unwillingness to cover operating expenses with fare increases. Yet it
is expected that highway maintenance will be covered by auto and truck
Bill Kuisle (9) (10) (10)
Question 2: You have to, at some time, realize what can be done and
set priorities within those parameters
Question 3: This is a must. Why would you build something if you
couldn't pay to operate it?
Donald Anderson (8) (8) (10)
Again, it appears that our needs greatly exceed our present abilities
to fund these needs. Solution ?: that is the billion dollar question.
John S. Adams (9) (9) (10)
Charles Lutz (5) (9) (9)
John Milton (8) (0) (8)
Margaret Donahue (5) (2) (8)
Question 2: A rather loaded question. Developing an accurate
assessment of need and then setting priorities are not mutually
Wayne Jennings (10) (8) (10)
Donna Anderson (8) (5) (8)
Bill Hamm (3) (10) (10)
The whole effort here will be to try to justify toll roads in
Minnesota and use the money not only for highway rebuilding but also
to support light rail and high speed rail which can't sustain
Question 1. The stakeholder process would be believable and beneficial
if and only if we had something like $45 Billion of the $65 Billion we
need. Under the present lack of funding he is blowing smoke.
Question 2. I am always in favor of reality.
David Broden (10) (7) (10)
Question 1: The involvement of all stakeholders is very positive as an
approach to include a broad view of all the needs of transportation
across the state for personnel, goods, services etc. The key will be
how the input is handled and put together in an objective and balanced
way. The MnDOT plan must present all needs as stated and then show an
integrated and balanced approach. If some needs or topics are set
aside then the open input approach may not have the benefits. I am
however optimistic that all input will be reported and addressed in a
fair and balanced way.
Question 2: This must be a two step process. First capturing the all
the needs of each stakeholder and compiling these a benefit metric
attached. To just list is not adequate I would suggest a well defined
benefit metric for each need. After compiling all the needs the State
of Mn priorities for jobs, environment, education, people movement,
goods/services, should also be prioritized and the transportation
needs matched. With those two steps the funding can be allocated where
the benefits can best be realized for the whole state. If a process
such as this is outlined and implemented the focus on "earmark"
transportation projects should begin to fade into the sunset and we
will get real
value for the dollar addressing needs and benefits. Bottom line is we
need a full and well defined process from data gathering, to
completion and use of the projects.
Question 3: Any plan for transportation must look at the life cycle
cost of the project/activity. The investment is not just the capital
expense but also the annual cost to the taxpayer and user of each item
and also the future upgrade and maintenance. Without a clear look at
the operating cost it is not possible to assess the real cost vs.
benefits. There may some transportation projects that the state may
decide the cost of subsidizing is the responsible way to proceed. It
we proceed with known subsidy costs and the public is made aware of
this cost we will have made a "sea state" change that ensure the
public has an understanding of the real cost and perhaps will help to
shape the future.
Conrad deFiebre (10) (10) (6)
Question 3: Yes, but not as the only, or even the prime,
consideration. Public operating expenses for roads and bridges will
always be much less than for transit and intercity rail, but to
abandon those latter modes based on operating costs would be
disastrous for our economy.
(Thompson asks about the relative position of transportation in the
Recently on channel 17 there was a TV show featuring the
transportation systems of Minnesota. The show was well done showing
the various developments that has influenced the road and streets as
well as other transportation systems primarily in the metropolitan
The closing part of the program presented the question whether
Minnesota has lost direction or ceased to be an important leader in
many aspects of community growth and development. The question was
posed in such a manner as to imply that transportation is the driving
factor in such developments. It concluded with the thought that in the
past many other states came to Minnesota to study or observe community
systems that seemed to be working here. Recently officials and study
groups have been going to other states studying transportation and
systems that may be related to a slowing of the economy and the “good
life” in Minnesota.
There is little question that access and location are and have been
important factors driving many of the conditions that contributed to
Minnesota’s leadership in numerous areas. However, important as it is,
the transportation system is only the vehicle that moves the product,
not the engine.
Historically Minnesota has often been providing leadership in the
development and production of numerous “products”. The question might
be, was transportation the primary start for these developments or
now, can improved transport provide the impetus that seems to have
been lost? A brief summary of reasons for prior leadership might be of
Significant roles in the economy occurred in a wide variety of areas.
Creative, industrious, risk taking people played a critical role. The
University of Minnesota played an important part not only training
some of the leaders but was significant in continuing or further
development of many products. Many were the result of the state’s
natural resources. Agriculture made major contributions because of the
wide climatic and other environmental differences. The grain exchange,
milling industry, South St Paul Livestock market, paint industry,
dairy and many small processing plants were a few of the major drivers
related to the climatic diversity. Natural resource location also
contributed. The milling industry was important because of the
favorable wheat growing conditions. The iron mining and forest related
industries were important. When wheat diseases became a problem, the
University contributed solutions. The taconite developments gave new
life to the iron mining industry. Flax production was important for
linseed oil for paints. General Mills and Pillsbury were the off
shoots of the milling industry.
Education, research and service have always been important and the
University was there to provide support in so many areas. The
agricultural schools provided training for many of the future
community agricultural leaders. The Extension service provided the
basic inputs to 4H and the cooperative movements and other leadership
roles. Minnesota was at one time an important leader in computer
developments. The Mayo clinic remains a leader in Health management.
Minnesota, and the related Midwest were well known in the past for
supplying industrious hard working personnel. That may have been
partially related to the rural farm and small town background for much
of the population. Most grew up in a working environment. They went to
work with mom or dad every day learned what had to be done, and
probably found solutions for problems with baling wire or string.
Today’s service economy provides less opportunity for teaching by
doing or following parental example through “a day at the office” with
dad or mom.
Other examples can be shown regarding reasons for Minnesota’s past
leadership in so many areas. Most are related to a type of “product”
development. That may be a virtual material, service, leadership or
something directly of value. Transportation may be important but was
never the real driving force in Minnesota.
There is no question that finding the unique product that will drive
Minnesota to the forefront again will be difficult. Corn and Soybeans
have replaced much of the wheat in the state and many other states
have more favorable conditions for production. At one time Minnesota
provided most of the corn germ plasma for northern corn varieties. Now
commercial companies are capable of those developments. The livestock
industry and much of the agricultural enterprises are now concentrated
in large commercial “business” operations whereas at one time many
small widespread operations contributed to the economy.
Transportation systems do contribute to the economy but only to move
people and products to and from the “engine” of the operations. The
Golden Gophers were one of the main sport attractions in the state.
The proliferation of professional sport activities has diluted the
number of persons attending Gopher games and in some cases seemed to
result in lower attendance at other events. However total attendance
is higher resulting in transportation congestion at times. Just as
with other business endeavors transportation is vital but it is not
the driving force, it is the means to get to the location of the
primary “engine”. Transportation will develop if there is a vital need
for it but transportation will not develop a viable economy except for
the transportation industry itself.
Rick Bishop (10) (10) (5)
Shari Prest (10) (4) (6)
Lyall Schwarzkopf (8) (10) (10)
I found the summary very telling. The Commissioner thinks things are
going well and that most states have a disjointed system. How can the
Civic Caucus propose a different plan, if even the Commissioner
doesn't believe in such a plan? Maybe the Civic Caucus needs to do
much homework with the Commissioner and others before it proposes
Clarence Shallbetter (2) (9) (10)
A plan is much, much more than a wish list from every organization
interested in moving people or freight or benefiting from these
movements. What is the state vision and purpose in all of this? Does
the state have a vision, such as what the federal government had
originally when it made a commitment to the interstate freeway system?
What is the state purpose in investing in city streets, township
roads, bike trails, alleys, sidewalks, collector roads with little
traffic, or transit services in off peak times? If providing transit
services for those who cannot afford to own and operate an auto is a
highly valued public service shouldn't it be service available
throughout the state not just in a portion of the metropolitan area or
at least be a voucher that enables eligible users to purchase the
service from whoever will supply it? How does collecting the wish
lists of organizations that supply roads, other facilities, or
transportation services get more effective and efficient services
developed? Where are the incentives?
Al Quie (10) (10) (10)
Kent Eklund (9) (9) (9)
This level of detail belongs in a class on management in business
school, not in an advisory policy statement. What justifies this level
of micromanagement? Are the administrators of MnDOT so poorly prepared
to do their job that they have to be micromanaged? What qualifies me,
you and everyone participating in a discussion at this level to
presume we have the right to tell them how to do their job? I don't
have a degree in business or public administration; all I have is
common sense. That tells me that yes, of course you involve
"stakeholders," however you define them (I assume MN is not yet a
dictatorship) of course you take into account both the start-up costs
and the operating costs before you start a project, any project in any
context, and of course you do only what you can afford. How you
determine each of these things is at the management level, not at the
The discussion at this level should be limited to the speaker's point
C2, the statewide transportation plan; that is, to specify the proper
balance between people and freight, roads and air service and rail,
hubs and spokes, safety and reliability and efficiency, etc. But at
some point you have to let the professionals do their job to fill in
Bill Frenzel (8) (10) (10)
Ray Schmitz (5) (7) (8)
Question 1: The problem is that you sit at the meeting and the
universe of possibilities is unlimited and my knowledge of the
possibilities is limited. It might be better of have in hand their
proposals and ask for comment.
Question 2: Dreams are wonderful but reality is good.
Question 3: The difficulty is that all of the costs need to be
factored in, for example a new road may have less expenses than a
transit system unless the cost of the cars is taken into
Terry Stone (7) (10) (10)
Carolyn Ring (8) (9) (9)
Question 1: Recognizing they will each have their own agenda and
working with them, but MNDOT having the final decision.
Question 2: To me. that's a given.
Question 3: Definitely, it is no good too create the means of
transportation if it can't be funded in the future.
Allen Saeks (0) (8) (8)
Involving "stakeholders" in the process of preparing transportation
plans will lead to the unfortunate result of these special interests
injecting their views into the process through lobbying and otherwise.
The process will not then lead to a reflective result that is in the
best interests of the state or other lesser government districts. For
example, safety is said to be a criteria of the ultimate plan. None of
the "stakeholders" will necessarily be championing safety as a citizen
group might do. There would be no role for citizens to participate in
the process. Thus, the trucking industry might get its goals of longer
and yet longer trucks with no consideration for the number of fatal
and other serious accidents that trucks cause on MN highways. MnDOT
would obviously "bend" to the trucking industry in the negotiations of
MnDOT planning when there is no one with clout to argue for safety. It
would seem that a Planning Body would be best to plan for what is best
for the state and allow MnDOT to implement a plan that is not heavily
influenced by the so-called stakeholders.
Bright Dornblaser (10) (0) (10)
I have concerns re improving mobility outstate by increasing roads as
stated in the key components of the plans. Also the collaborative
process while desirable does not identify how priorities will be set
as inevitably they will. What happens if MDOT actually does set
priorities and after hearings adopts a plan over likely objections?
Any appeal mechanism? To the Governor? It would have been useful to
have pressed with a question what if hoped for collaboration approach
does not result in a common vision and more specifically on priorities
what happens? Who will enforce and how?
Chris Brazelton (9) (10) (8)
Other concerns, not listed among the stakeholders, must also weigh in
as the process unfolds, for example our environmental concerns.
Certain modes of transportation may
be cheaper to build and operate, but may not fit into our
We need to look at what makes a mode of transportation successful,
making sure it is user friendly and attractive. People commuting from
the suburbs into the city don't want
to deal with local teens on the busses, or multiple stops, so express
service is used where local service would not.
If we build high speed rail to take us across states or the continent,
include a "ferry car" on the train that carries the passengers'
vehicles to the next city.
Question 1: Collaboration is messy and very time-consuming, but
Question 2: Priorities for spending public dollars. Private investors
can tap into the plans and speed up projects, where appropriate.
Question 3: No sense building something we can't afford to operate or
maintain. We must always take into consideration the ongoing funding
and user fees available.
Steve Alderson (8) (8) (8)
Both the questions below and the comment listed as number 19 in the
discussion show an alarming lack if awareness about how MN/DOT already
uses funding expectations as input to its planning and construction
programming process. Adopting restricted construction and operation
programs in response to limited funds takes up a lot of the planning
staff energies at both the state and district level. The various
district intergovernmental transportation advisory committees such as
the Metropolitan Transportation Advisory Board are always aware of the
limits to transportation funding. Federal guidelines require it.
MN/DOT Central office controls the whole operation by setting district
budgets in cooperation with district engineers on a continuing basis.
Estimates of need are always impacted by wish lists and continually
run up estimates beyond capacity to fund. More attention needs to be
given to what actually makes it to implementation and what benefits
are received from projects that do go forward. Then there will be a
realization that MN/DOT and the regional planning agencies know what
they are doing and are delivering benefits for the money that the
legislature does provide.
Civic Caucus is not helping by joining the gnashing of teeth about how
poorly we are organized or how inadequately we are producing.
Minnesota has good transportation systems and a competent state
Tom Swain (5)(7) (10)