Minnesota Transportation Funding (General)

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phop
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Re: Minnesota Transportation Funding (General)

Postby phop » May 16th, 2016, 10:06 pm

All but one of the House seats that flipped to the GOP in 2014 were in outstate MN. Democrats have done about as well as they can realistically do in the Twin Cities, give or take a few seats. If Democrats are going to take the house this year, they have to make inroads in multiple rural MN swing districts.

Back to transportation, I can easily imagine a scenario where there is no transportation bill and no bonding bill if SWLRT funding is not provided in some form. Predictions then come down to whether one thinks Republicans are more interested in spiting the metro, or bringing home tens of millions for important projects in their districts. I lean towards the latter, so I remain cautiously optimistic that funding will happen. My confidence is decreasing by the day though...

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Mdcastle
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Re: Minnesota Transportation Funding (General)

Postby Mdcastle » May 17th, 2016, 4:29 am

There's more to selecting a candidate than whether they support the bonding and transportation bills or not. As a Republican supporter as much as I want roadway capacity expansion this is not going to make me switch sides. So I seriously doubt that any representatives will not be elected because their local college didn't get bonding for a new building or we didn't find a solution to transportation funding this time around.

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Re: Minnesota Transportation Funding (General)

Postby HiawathaGuy » May 17th, 2016, 7:36 am

Mdcastle wrote:There's more to selecting a candidate than whether they support the bonding and transportation bills or not. As a Republican supporter as much as I want roadway capacity expansion this is not going to make me switch sides. So I seriously doubt that any representatives will not be elected because their local college didn't get bonding for a new building or we didn't find a solution to transportation funding this time around.
But if the GOP can easily be cast as a DO-NOTHING arm of the Legislature, and simply obstructs. That's what people remember. Not bonding money, not a transportation package, etc. So if nothing passes - I would expect the DFL and the Governor to blast that message over and over and over, as they should!

And they are quickly following the national GOP as being the PARTY OF NO...

Gov. Mark Dayton relents on gas tax; House GOP still says no
http://www.startribune.com/gov-dayton-u ... 379669881/

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Re: Minnesota Transportation Funding (General)

Postby RailBaronYarr » May 17th, 2016, 8:30 am

I mean, you understand that both sides view the other as the obstructionist party, the reason behind not getting anything done, right? Given the discourse around transportation in this country, people - even liberal suburbanites - are more likely to see the DFL at fault for not compromising on transportation. Liberals don't want a gas tax increase, either. They want to spend the surplus, and are just fine with using general fund revenues on transportation because "economic development." Many don't really care about transit, even think it's a waste. Yes, this is despite a fairly effective marketing push the last two years by various pro-transit+roads groups. In any case, the GOP will have absolutely zero problem flipping that argument in swing districts (and what few outstate districts that could have been won by the DFL) to their own benefit.

And, this whole thing is so effing dumb. The rhetoric is so terrible, on both sides. The DFL has shown their weakness in negotiations time and again, from Dayton's "the gas tax is dead" all the way down - should be no surprise the GOP isn't budging. We're not talking anything controversial here, like tolling highways and interstates or the gas tax being >1x the costs of roads (like Germany) or pricing pollution (CO2 and local particulates) or anything else. A gas tax is the simplest, cheapest way to charge users for what they use in the general sense. We regulate/charge for utilities and water systems, and it's not controversial. It simply shouldn't be political football to raise the gas tax if people want to maintain (and even expand) their roads. And metro-area transit certainly shouldn't be held political hostage when the ask is to tax ourselves for the expansions.

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Re: Minnesota Transportation Funding (General)

Postby David Greene » May 17th, 2016, 8:38 am

How much would it cost to place signs at each approach to every bridge so categorized, "This bridge is structurally deficient?"

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talindsay
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Re: Minnesota Transportation Funding (General)

Postby talindsay » May 17th, 2016, 9:07 am

That's essentially what they do with highway infrastructure in Michigan - when the road starts to fall apart, they spend a few hundred dollars to put up a yellow diamond "rough road" sign rather than spend tens of thousands to fix it. Pretty soon they'll all be driving their gas guzzling rear wheel drive V8 Challengers and Camaros on gravel roads.

We will do better than that. But even if we don't, we own fewer hot rods and more Subarus per capita.

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Re: Minnesota Transportation Funding (General)

Postby David Greene » May 17th, 2016, 9:14 am

The idea is to make people more aware of maintenance needs and build political support.

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Re: Minnesota Transportation Funding (General)

Postby David Greene » May 17th, 2016, 9:22 am

I lived in Michigan for seven years and regularly drove I-75 before it was reconstructed. It was worse than gravel. Huge potholes about every hundred feet or so.

But to be fair, the weather in SE Michigan is *much* worse for roads than it is here.

Which leads me to my funniest transportation story. I am not kidding, this literally happened.

I was driving back to Michigan just after a huge blizzard went through Chicago and was in central Michigan. Right at about the Holland exit off I-94 I start seeing cars in ditches left and right. I tap the brakes to check and instantly start sliding. I mean there was no grip whatsoever. So the whole interstate moves at about 20 MPH from Holland to Battle Creek. Cars in ditches every 500 feet or so -- no kidding. Right at Battle Creek suddenly the pace picks up. Not more than 50 feet after acceleration begins, I see this sign on the right side of the road:

"End of MDOT Anti-Ice Testing Area"

RailBaronYarr
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Re: Minnesota Transportation Funding (General)

Postby RailBaronYarr » May 17th, 2016, 9:26 am

David Greene wrote:The idea is to make people more aware of maintenance needs and build political support.
Do you think the problem is that there's a lack of support for fixing roads/bridges and (generally speaking) expanding them where people perceive congestion?

mattaudio
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Re: Minnesota Transportation Funding (General)

Postby mattaudio » May 17th, 2016, 9:49 am

Whoa whoa whoa let's back up here and separate one thing into two. Based on what I'm seeing, there's more support than ever for roadbuilding and expansion - in both parties. And that's misguided, IMO, but it is what it is.

So then assuming there's wide bipartisan support to build more and wider roads everywhere everyplace, why isn't it happening?

Because there's a series of misguided assumptions held by many people, of both parties. But it's much more predominant in rural areas, and in the GOP.
1. People have no idea how much roads actually cost to build and maintain. They think it's far less than it is. Ask someone how much an average stoplight costs sometime - that's the best thing I've found to illustrate this fact.
2. People think the gas tax is being diverted to non-road spending, and that explains the shortfall.
3. People think the one-time surplus is a huge amount and would exceed any funding needs we have... That we could do a one-time push to fix all of our problems, and they'd go away. But of course, it's a one-time pot of money.
4. People think the exurban and rural areas are getting stiffed and are not receiving their fair share, and that the metro is getting all the goodies they're paying for. Which of course has been proven false.

Therefore, I think it's wiser to attack these misconceptions, rather than just keep howling "we need more money" when people simply don't believe the assumptions and facts that go into such a claim.

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Re: Minnesota Transportation Funding (General)

Postby David Greene » May 17th, 2016, 10:13 am

Good points Matt.

Maybe signs that say, "X% of this road funded by metro taxes?"

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Re: Minnesota Transportation Funding (General)

Postby twincitizen » May 17th, 2016, 11:41 am

Agreed, great points Matt. But perceptions are a hell of an obstacle to overcome on ANY subject, let alone one as complex and technical as transportation funding. I really don't know how you overcome that.

Switching gears back to the immediacy of landing a "compromise" in the next week... where do we think Daudt and his caucus will land on a metro sales tax? So he is specifically opposed to funding SWLRT. I don't think anyone is expecting bonding dollars to be dedicated to that project. The plan for SWLRT has (for years now) been that increased transit sales taxes would cover the state's remaining portion. Will he continue to oppose any and all sales tax increases? The DFL simply is not going to move a transportation bill forward without it. So where does that leave us? Does Daudt/GOP break? A smaller increase of just .25%? Only in Hennepin (and Ramsey)? Subject to approval by county (board or referendum)?

MNdible
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Re: Minnesota Transportation Funding (General)

Postby MNdible » May 17th, 2016, 11:48 am

Here's Daudt's first counter-offer.

This definitely counts as a baby step towards compromise. Money quote:
Dayton and the Senate DFL want a half cent sales tax increase in the metro region to pay for expanded transit, including the southwest light rail line from Minneapolis to Eden Prairie.

Daudt said transit is off the table, for now.

Asked if he wants to kill the southwest light-rail line, Daudt nodded yes.

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Re: Minnesota Transportation Funding (General)

Postby David Greene » May 17th, 2016, 12:42 pm

Now he's saying there has to be agreement on road funding and then they'll consider transit.

RRRRIIIIIIGGGGHHHTTT.....

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Re: Minnesota Transportation Funding (General)

Postby David Greene » May 17th, 2016, 12:45 pm

Ultimately I wouldn't be surprised by a Hennepin/Ramsey-only sales tax with funds dedicated to transit in those counties only; preferably with no additional votes required. A referendum is off the table. No way the DFL would support that and I wouldn't either. 0.5% at minimum for me.

I don't think I'd support a 0.25% sales tax, even metro-wide. We went that route in 2008 and it just doesn't buy that much. We need significant new funding, not a trickle.

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Re: Minnesota Transportation Funding (General)

Postby David Greene » May 17th, 2016, 12:49 pm

A couple more points to add to Matt's list:

5. People think LRT and other transitways do not have their costs justified when in fact they go through far more scrutiny than any road project.

6. People think user fees entirely cover the cost of streets, roads and highways. They don't even cover highways, much less all the other stuff.

I'd say #1 is the biggest problem. Recall a few years back when the Republicans took over the House, Mn/DOT literally had to meet with the new transportation chair and painstakingly explain why roads cost as much as they do. The freaking transportation chair simply wouldn't believe the numbers.

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Re: Minnesota Transportation Funding (General)

Postby Silophant » May 17th, 2016, 1:46 pm

David Greene wrote:Ultimately I wouldn't be surprised by a Hennepin/Ramsey-only sales tax with funds dedicated to transit in those counties only; preferably with no additional votes required.
This sounds like the way to go. Less money than bringing the collar counties into it, but we don't have to waste it on crap like the Gold Line.

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Re: Minnesota Transportation Funding (General)

Postby fehler » May 18th, 2016, 9:32 am

The Feds want to see state buy-in for continuing funds, I think.

Anyways, once Hennepin/Ramsey start paying for stuff themselves, then the future will be no more state money for Hennepin/Ramsey.

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Re: Minnesota Transportation Funding (General)

Postby David Greene » May 18th, 2016, 10:23 am

fehler wrote:The Feds want to see state buy-in for continuing funds, I think.
No, I don't think the Feds care where the local money comes from, just that it's a stable source and the state has most definitely not been that.
fehler wrote:Anyways, once Hennepin/Ramsey start paying for stuff themselves, then the future will be no more state money for Hennepin/Ramsey.
For transit, yes. That's been clear for a very long time and I would welcome it. We can't continue to be beholden to rural MN for our critical metro infrastructure.

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Re: Minnesota Transportation Funding (General)

Postby mattaudio » May 18th, 2016, 10:33 am

I'm very concerned about the idea of using general obligation bonds for road expansion, the current GOP "compromise" pitch:
http://www.startribune.com/house-releas ... 379952831/

Especially when the projects cited in the article are SO bad. "The measure sets aside money for U.S. Highway 12 in Hennepin County and the Highway 212 interchange in Chaska, along with funding to improve I-35W and Lake Drive and the I-94 and Brockton Lane interchange."

This is probably the worst way to fund highway expansion.


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