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 Response Page - Filipi  Interview -      

These comments are responses to the questions listed below,
which were generated in regard to the
Mark Filipi Interview of


Mark Filipi, Manager of Technical Planning Support for the Metropolitan Council, analyzes the trips taken by drivers within the metropolitan region and the implications for traffic congestion. Better overall planning is required, he argues, including a rational analysis of all forms of transit.

For the complete interview summary see:

Response Summary: Readers have been asked to rate, on a scale of (0) most disagreement, to (5) neutral, to (10) most agreement, the following points discussed by Filipi. Average response ratings shown below are simply the mean of all readers’ zero-to-ten responses to the ideas proposed and should not be considered an accurate reflection of a scientifically structured poll.

1. More traffic inevitable. (8.3 average response) With growth in households, employment, and vehicle trips, more traffic in the Twin Cities metro area is inevitable.

2. Rush hour congestion unavoidable. (8.0 average response) Regardless of how much new construction occurs, freeways always will be full at peak hours, because drivers choose the fastest route.

3. Planning authority fragmented. (8.1 average response) The Twin Cities area transportation planning process is not coherent. With some 25 agencies involved, No one office or organization is accountable for the quality and outcome of the planning, including its long-term impact.

4. Common vision lacking. (8.7 average response) Absence of an agreed-upon vision and priorities in the metro area contributes to the difficulty of transportation planning.

5. Metro transportation sufficient. (6.6 average response) Despite problems, highway and transit systems function well here compared to many other metro areas.

Response Distribution:

Strongly disagree

Moderately disagree


Moderately agree

Strongly agree

Total Responses

1. More traffic inevitable.







2. Rush hour congestion unavoidable.







3. Planning authority fragmented.







4. Common vision lacking.







5. Metro transportation sufficient.







Individual Responses:

Todd Graham (5) (7.5) (5) (7.5) (10)

3. Planning authority fragmented. Hold on: Why isn't Met Council the primary agency and (the) accountable agency?

Debby Frenzel (10) (10) (7.5) (7.5) (5)

Ray Ayotte (10) (7.5) (7.5) (7.5) (7.5)

Anonymous (10) (10) (5) (7.5) (7.5)

Dave Broden (10) (2.5) (7.5) (10) (7.5)

1. More traffic inevitable. More people, more activity and more interests translates to more movement of people to and from various activity and needs. This increases the need for both more vehicles and for alternate modes to move people in all directions as well as needs to have routes for emergency vehicles and for movement of products, goods, services.

2. Rush hour congestion unavoidable. Question assumes that freeways are the fastest route-- a bad assumption. Freeways are more a convenience route to the heavy work or population areas--not necessarily the fastest. People do use alternate (routes) if they understand the path.

3. Planning authority fragmented. The number of agencies is a definite issue and problem, however there is no vision or purpose to many of the ideas. Solving problems via individual mandates or interests vs. a well thought out total vision is always useful and will result in transportation efficiency, land use economics, and financial considerations.

4. Common vision lacking. The transportation vision must be a sub section of a total vision of the state and region which considers all factors: population, jobs, location of jobs, consumer traffic, special events, movement not only to a central point but to point on the circumference--we need a wheel and spoke vision for transportation.

5. Metro transportation sufficient. True and not true. Some older cities are worse but have some visionary improvements and multimode. Other new cities have both issues also. We need (to) plan and build for Minnesota not for how we keep up with someone else. We can and should be visionary, not static, move forward for the betterment of people in Minnesota.

Nathan Johnson (10) (7.5) (5) (10) (2.5)

Lyle Wright (7.5) (10) (7.5) (10) (7.5)

3. Planning authority fragmented.

Structure the process to be more effective and efficient.

Scott Halstead (10) (7.5) (10) (10) (0)

2. Rush hour congestion unavoidable. Drivers will seek alternative routes during congestion.

3. Planning authority fragmented. We have terrible planning, route development, cost/benefit ratio, financing and operating and maintenance processes.

5. Metro transportation sufficient. We totally lack a cost efficient transit system. We need to utilize transit that has ridership in and outbound. Our roads and highways are congested even during the poor economy.

Anonymous (10) (10) (10) (10) (10)

Don Anderson (10) (10) (10) (10) (7.5)

Jerry Hertaus (5) (5) (7.5) (7.5) (5)

1. More traffic inevitable. Not all growth in household numbers automatically translates to more traffic congestion. Many current households during the last many years are "loaded" with adult children and grandchildren whom traditionally should have their own households, but cannot at this time due to the economic turndown. Central planning creating employment and housing in a centralized region may actually be contributing to congestion rather than dispersing both employment and population. Dispersing employment around the region as well as an increase of "flex" hour employment might accomplish more to alleviating congestion. As the economy improves, many of these blended families will have their own households, but the number of people in the region commuting is not directly correlated to growth in housing. For example, a driver at age 16 has a regional impact for ten years before that same driver is eventually a homeowner (age 26). Young people have greater access to dedicated vehicle mobility than twenty years ago or a generation ago. It seems that age 16 is no longer a grant for driving privileges, but has become a right to a dedicated vehicle. In addition, we have experienced an explosion of discretionary activities, which has caused increased demand for discretionary mobility.

2. Rush hour congestion unavoidable. Define fastest. Many drivers I know are willing to drive longer commutes as long as they "keep moving" versus slower more direct routes. Often times the total time to a destination is no different. As a planning tool, what ideas have been pursued which will put employees closer to their places of employment OR to get employers closer to their requisite qualified work force?

3. Planning authority fragmented. Minnesota has long had a great disconnect between providing needed infrastructure in a timely manner. It takes more than 20 years to build a major road here. We suffer many obstacles in timely implementation. Most new roads are already obsolete on the day they are opened, which leads to often-incorrect assumptions about congestion and their causes. Road building is too often a delayed reaction significantly behind other regional growth trends.

4. Common vision lacking. Planning is an important component of wisely expending public resources, but how much planning is really necessary? Paralysis of analysis coupled with disagreements on how people should travel as opposed to how people want to travel is fundamentally contributing to the core problem of congestion.

5. Metro transportation sufficient. I have traveled and still frequent many major metropolitan areas around the country. Our metro area seems to be underdeveloped with roads and freeways compared to many other major metropolitan areas. I do not think we (Minnesota) have been as successful in obtaining Federal funding as other metropolitan areas nor have we allocated our own resources appropriately. Most demonstrably different is the overall lack of lanes to our metro freeway loops compared to other cities.

Zack Liebl (10) (10) (10) (10) (7.5)

Steve Alderson (10) (10) (5) (5) (10)

1. More traffic inevitable. It is a sign of progress we can welcome increased traffic.

2. Rush hour congestion unavoidable. It is a function of the peak hour; might as well be mad about going to the toilet.

3. Planning authority fragmented. If we had a philosopher king it would not be any better. I am not sure where the 25 number comes from. The council and MnDOT are a structure that would work if allowed to do their legislative charge.

4. Common vision lacking. See above. The Transportation professionals in the state do well; they are often the butt of unwarranted criticism

5. Metro transportation sufficient. Try Chicago for a while.

Well done. I continue to be proud of the abilities of Metro Council Transportation staff. Doing a good job of understanding the system and how it is used can never hurt.

Mark emphasized understanding. I think that is wise. When discussing public policy we need more appreciation of reality and less whining.

Nancy Larson (10) (10) (10) (10) (10)

Anonymous (7.5) (10) (5) (7.5) (7.5)

Matt McKeand (2.5) (2.5) (10) (10) (0)

1. More traffic inevitable. If planned and implemented correctly, traffic could be maintained or decreased through public transportation and telecommuting.

2. Rush hour congestion unavoidable. With increased GPS navigation on most phones and in most cars, drivers can take side streets when they are faster.

3. Planning authority fragmented. We need the met council/state to solve the whole problem.

5. Metro transportation sufficient. While our traffic is not as bad as other areas, a robust light rail system would greatly enhance our area. Construction of this system needs to increase until we have reasonable options for all key population centers to high volume destinations (i.e. downtown Minneapolis, 494 strip, St. Paul, MSP airport, etc.).

Mina Harrigan (10) (5) (10) (10) (7)

Margaret Donahoe (10) (9) (9) (9) (6)

Very informative.

Paul and Ruth Hauge (8) (8) (9) (6) (5)

John Milton (10) (5) (10) (10) (5)

Gene Franchett (10) (10) (8) (7) (7)

Chuck Lutz (10) (8) (8) (8) (9)

Wayne Jennings (10) (8) (6) (8) (6)

The answer to traffic problems seems so elusive and impossible. I suspect it will be relieved by moving on many fronts of planning and action. I’m glad to see many highway projects underway, difficult as they are under construction.

Tom Swain (9) (10) (7) (9) (5)

Al Quie (0) (10) (10) (10) (10)

Chris Brazelton (0) (2.5) (10) (10) (7.5)

1. More traffic inevitable. More movement of people is inevitable. Traffic is dependent on mode of transportation.

2. Rush hour congestion unavoidable. The fastest route on several freeways is the HOV lane, yet still a great number of people who could commute sacrifice speed for privacy and independence.

4. Common vision lacking. Not only do we lack a systemic vision, but we also lack individual vision. Part of the difficulty is changing people's mindset from "me first" to what is good for the community. Ask not what your community's transportation system can do for you, but what you can do for your community's transportation system.

5. Metro transportation sufficient. Just because others are worse does not mean we shouldn't seek to improve ours.

Shirley Heaton (10) (10) (na) (na) (na)

The problem exists throughout the country. While in Washington, D.C., I once coordinated the efforts of public and private transportation ‘experts’ whose task was to design a ‘workable’, effective transportation system for an ‘Expo’-type newly designed subdivision. Result? Nothing. Why? Too many ‘cooks in the kitchen’! By the way, (questions 3, 4, and 5 are unanswered because) I am not able to give opinions on the Twin Cities since I no longer live there.


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;  David Broden, Charles Clay,  Bill Frenzel, Paul Gilje,  Jim Hetland,  Marina Lyon,
Joe Mansky,  John Mooty,  Jim Olson,  and  Wayne Popham 

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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