Minneapolis Rethinking Begins

The New York Times reports today that the Governor of Minnesota, who twice vetoed gas tax increases, is now open to the idea.

It also highlights the fact that Rep. James Oberstar, the Chair of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee (of which Peter DeFazio’s Surface Transportation Committee is a sub-committee) is from Minnesota, which creates interesting perspective on how the Federal gas tax (which, like Oregon’s gas tax, has not been raised since 1993) is allocated between maintenance and new construction.


9 responses to “Minneapolis Rethinking Begins”

  1. Shame on the New York Times for allowing itself to once again be an outlet for Randal O’Toole. Rather than take the objective opinion of someone respected in the field, they got lazy and decided to pull out their dial-a-snark Rolodex.

    O’Toole’s tired “percent of commuters” argument has been refuted 1.000 times over. But of course he knows that if he keeps repeating it often enough, someone will print it yet again.

    With the untold billions spent on highway new construction/expansion over the past 50 years, it’s somehow rail transit’s fault that this huge and overbuilt system is not being maintained? This is just scapegoating, pure and simple.

    I realize the point that they’re trying to make but I think they should have taken a little more perspective in this case.

    P.S. Sorry to pick up on a relatively minor point of the article and run with it, but it struck a nerve.

  2. Not only is the percent of commuters a joke, in the article it is clearly stated by RandalL that 99% of trips are on highways??? What a blatant misrepresentation of even his own spin.

  3. “Rather than take the objective opinion of someone respected in the field”

    Wow, now that’s special. Now who might that be? Someone from a transit agency? Or how about someone from Bechtel who gets no bid contracts to build lighjt rail?

    O’Toole is completely objective. He rightly disagrees with you and the smart growth, rail transit new urbanism and has done an enormous amount of fact gathering and study which demonstrates what a farce it is.

    Locally there are many examples yet it doesn’t matter to the light rail, density crowd.
    They simply want more of it anyway while repeating the theories and misrepresenting reality.

  4. “O’Toole is completely objective. He rightly disagrees with you and smart growth”

    Pat, I absolutely LOVE how you somehow state that a commentator’s analysis is completely objective and, in the same breath mind you, adamantly concur with said analysis by supporting it with a completely subjective opinion.


  5. From the article:
    “Of the $12 million secured for [Minnesota], $10 million is slated for a new 40-mile commuter rail line to Minneapolis, called the Northstar. The remaining $2 million is divided among a new bike and walking path and a few other projects, including highway work and interchange reconstruction.”

    Wow, $12M. If we’d spend that sort of money on our freeways instead, we could pay for about 10 feet, (from the shore, not of the width,) of the new CRC bridge. I can see why O’Toole feels the way he does, if only we didn’t spend all of our money on these silly “alternatives”, there clearly would be enough money for a preliminary study, with enough left over for some balloons about congestion too.

  6. Its kinda sad whats happened to the New York Times. I used to pay for a mail subscription in the day when that was the only way to get it. But it has fallen a long ways. This article is an example. We have a libertarian economist from the Cato Institute identified as a “transportation expert”. No mention of his ideology or his long history of propaganda against urban planning of any kind.

  7. Ross Williams:

    We have a libertarian economist from the Cato Institute identified as a “transportation expert”.

    Bob T:

    O’Toole has studied transportation for
    some years now. Do you think he knows
    less than the last two heads of Tri-Met
    (EPA’s Fred Hanson and construction company
    [and head of Goldschmit’s campaign manager
    Tom Walsh)

    Ross Williams:

    No mention of his ideology or his long history of propaganda against urban planning of any kind.

    Bob T:

    Oh, so it’s okay for Kuntzler to have an
    ideology and to be a propagandist?

    By the way, in the campaign for North-South
    Light Rail in 1998, the rail establishment’s spokesperson Bernie Bottomly told the Town
    Hall audience that the plan was examined by
    “an independent panel of experts”, including
    Mike Houke of the Audobon Society!

    Most or all progressives (so-called) are always
    talking about fasicism being the partnership of
    State and business, yet are silent about this
    very lucrative and obvious example – the Light
    Rail gravy train. Look at the Fat Cats pushing
    it all the time and then try to explaion why
    most big bad pro-business Republicans aren’t
    that interested in providing that gravy train?

    Bob Tiernan

  8. I read O’Toole’s recent report about Portland (July, 2007). Now, I know where he is coming from, and he is not really objective IMHO.

    HOWEVER, based upon what I have read over the years, I see no reason to disbelieve this statement of his in the report:

    “In the 1970’s, Mayor Neil Goldschmidt selected light rail techology precisely because its high cost would allow him to spend lots of federal dollars creating construction jobs and profits for local contractors.”

    So, they went for the most expensive modality that they could, hah? And was not the original Banfield transitway supposed to be a non-stop BRT (as I read on a website I found a while ago)? See, you could spend even more money putting in LRT stations.

  9. I think our own Jim Howell had more to do with getting light rail on the Banfield than then Mayor Goldschmidt. Citizens create the waves that politicians ride.

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