Minnesota Transportation Funding (General)

Roads - Rails - Sidewalks - Bikeways
David Greene
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Re: Condition of Minnesota Roads and what to do...

Postby David Greene » February 17th, 2015, 10:21 am

mattaudio wrote:We've made the default non-metro living condition to live on acreage out in the country (only a miniscule percentage of whom are actual farmers).
My cousins would disagree with you. :) MNdible is correct about industrial ag but there still are family farms out there. My cousin inherited my uncle's farm out by New Ulm and he rents some of the land to small family farmers. Another one of my cousins from the same family doesn't farm but lives in a house on the family property. I guess you could argue "sprawl" but it's really not the same thing as new subdivisions in the boonies. All these places basically have the same dirt roads and rural electric they've had for a century.

The farms my various uncles and cousins own are 2nd- or 3rd-generation operations. The families have been there for a long time and they aren't moving any time soon. Sleepy Eye, Winthrop, Gaylord, Lafayette and New Ulm are all very familiar to me by name and in some cases by regular visits.

Small towns haven't been gutted by sprawl. They've been gutted because people left to find work. Don't confuse exurban development with what is happening in rural Minnesota. People drive into New Ulm because as you say, the smaller towns have lost a lot of their retail. I don't know how it could be any different given the changes in agriculture.

mattaudio
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Re: Condition of Minnesota Roads and what to do...

Postby mattaudio » February 17th, 2015, 10:45 am

New Ulm is a relatively bad example (in the best possible way) because with the little exception at the top of the hill on 14, they haven't sprawled. Look at a Dundas or an east Mankato or a south Willmar to see the exurban development pattern in hyperdrive in small and medium-sized towns.

David Greene
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Re: Condition of Minnesota Roads and what to do...

Postby David Greene » February 17th, 2015, 11:09 am

mattaudio wrote:New Ulm is a relatively bad example (in the best possible way) because with the little exception at the top of the hill on 14, they haven't sprawled. Look at a Dundas or an east Mankato or a south Willmar to see the exurban development pattern in hyperdrive in small and medium-sized towns.
Those places are not small towns. Northfield/Dundas has a population of 30k. Sleepy Eye is 3k. We're talking an order of magnitude or more difference in population.

I wasn't citing New Ulm as a small town either. It's a regional center. You're right that it as not sprawled as much. Why is that? Perhaps there is something we can learn.

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Re: Condition of Minnesota Roads and what to do...

Postby HiawathaGuy » February 17th, 2015, 11:13 am

Dayton unveils 600 road & bridge projects
http://www.startribune.com/local/292215731.html

List and maps on the official press release:
http://mn.gov/governor/newsroom/pressre ... 102-156543

mattaudio
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Re: Condition of Minnesota Roads and what to do...

Postby mattaudio » February 17th, 2015, 11:20 am

Can someone explain all the 30-40 year old simple concrete girder bridges on the list? Look at all the bridges listed for freeways such as 77 and 35E -- these bridges were built in the late 70s/early 80s, and are not functionally obsolete (not that functional obsolescence is a reason to replace a bridge anyways).

acs
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Re: Condition of Minnesota Roads and what to do...

Postby acs » February 17th, 2015, 11:21 am

This is a little different from the earlier maps, no? It's showing "mobility improvements" aka capacity expansion on 169, 494 and 36 in the metro. Also $1.6 billion in corridors of commerce which is all expansion. What a joke if this is our progressive transportation governor.

David Greene
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Re: Condition of Minnesota Roads and what to do...

Postby David Greene » February 17th, 2015, 11:26 am

mattaudio wrote:Can someone explain all the 30-40 year old simple concrete girder bridges on the list? Look at all the bridges listed for freeways such as 77 and 35E -- these bridges were built in the late 70s/early 80s, and are not functionally obsolete (not that functional obsolescence is a reason to replace a bridge anyways).
The 100/394 bridges are particularly irksome. I remember when those were built!
acs wrote:What a joke if this is our progressive transportation governor.
Dayton has never been progressive on transportation. He only understands one very narrow purpose of it.

Look to Dibble for what you want. We need to get behind the Senate's plan because it is much better than Dayton's.
Last edited by David Greene on February 17th, 2015, 11:28 am, edited 1 time in total.

mattaudio
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Re: Condition of Minnesota Roads and what to do...

Postby mattaudio » February 17th, 2015, 11:27 am

To be fair, acs said that second quote, not me. But I obviously agree.

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Re: Condition of Minnesota Roads and what to do...

Postby David Greene » February 17th, 2015, 11:29 am

Fixed!

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Mdcastle
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Re: Condition of Minnesota Roads and what to do...

Postby Mdcastle » February 17th, 2015, 12:28 pm

Are they talking about meaningful capacity improvements or just more Lexus Lanes?44

As for all the overpasses, remember the 1960s-1980s were not a high point in civil engineering.

mattaudio
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Re: Condition of Minnesota Roads and what to do...

Postby mattaudio » February 17th, 2015, 12:31 pm

That was probably when were building capacity for the sake of building capacity, rather than building infrastructure to last. What a fail that was. Sounds like we should just remove some of these freeways rather than replace every single bridge on them.

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Re: Condition of Minnesota Roads and what to do...

Postby RailBaronYarr » February 17th, 2015, 1:15 pm

Maybe you can expand on your thoughts re: tolled lanes as capacity additions, Mdcastle. Seems like given the huge funding gap in our system, any capacity expansions should be tolled to not only keep it from becoming immediately congested (new development taking advantage, etc), but also to pay for the improvements directly. Also, seems like a good compromise considering we COULD toll existing capacity (if we removed the federal law prohibiting it).

mattaudio
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Re: Condition of Minnesota Roads and what to do...

Postby mattaudio » February 17th, 2015, 2:12 pm

http://blogs.mprnews.org/capitol-view/2 ... -projects/

"He said projects including Highway 14 in southern Minnesota and an Interstate 94 expansion near St. Michael won’t get done unless the Legislature approves money for transportation."

Sounds like an excellent reason to torpedo this legislation.

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Re: Condition of Minnesota Roads and what to do...

Postby RailBaronYarr » February 17th, 2015, 2:15 pm

David Greene wrote:Small towns haven't been gutted by sprawl. They've been gutted because people left to find work. Don't confuse exurban development with what is happening in rural Minnesota. People drive into New Ulm because as you say, the smaller towns have lost a lot of their retail. I don't know how it could be any different given the changes in agriculture.
I'll agree with much of what you wrote. Small towns (let's say <5,000 people) don't often experience sprawl in the same way a major metro does. There may not be as many large-lot non-farm households outside a Tracy, MN as Matt suggests (looking at this view of the area makes it pretty clear most HHs in the vicinity are farms, again, just using Tracy as an example). It is probably true that Tracy tax base, like most small towns, was hurt quite a bit by losing workers due to ag industrialization. Maybe Tracy could have afforded the roads and parks it has now when every family had at least 1, if not 2, steady jobs (1 at an area farm/town grain elevator(etc) and one in a local store/school/etc).

But that clearly isn't the case anymore. Now, a solid chunk of people drive to Marshall to work. Tracy is lucky in that it has a hospital as a job engine (most small towns like this don't), and an air field (subsidized by the FAA). The high school *is* way out on the edge of town not really connected with the street grid (there was an older one in more traditional form, not sure if it was destroyed in the big tornado back in the 1968 tornado?). The hospital is as well, just a little better about it. Hwy 14 does have a lot of development that sprung up along it since the 1950s, with some notable new stuff (an Auto Value, a Subway, a Family Dollar soon!). All the while, downtown's storefronts include a city-owned bar/liquor store, a library, a city-run senior center, the municipal building (community center/city offices/etc), and quite a few few empty storefronts. Again, every town isn't exactly the same. But they do sprawl in their own ways, and they did so at a time when they were clearly losing tax base/residents/jobs/etc. Further, of the 622 people who work in Tracy, only 24% live there. Maybe, from a MnDOT perspective, roads like Hwy 14 need focus while counties let the farm-serving roads (of which many are paved, perhaps unnecessarily) go back to gravel.

Tracy received $908k in 2014 LGA. I'm not sure how much help they're getting in any CSAH/MSAS spending. I'd much rather the stat gov't work with towns like this to right-size themselves to make the balance sheets work. Maybe that means spending $908k a year for 10 years buying properties on the fringe off in exchange for more central location. Maybe it means doing some complete streets projects focused on the core. I have no idea what will work for sure. But I just don't think throwing more transpo & LGA money at these slowly dwindling towns is a good use of money just so everyone can drive in & park for free on 45' wide asphalt streets downtown or swim at the really nice community pool that loses $60k/year (just making a number up).

[This is not an indictment of anyone in Tracy, just using it as an example having spent some time there and talking in detail with city leaders]

mattaudio
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Re: Condition of Minnesota Roads and what to do...

Postby mattaudio » February 17th, 2015, 2:24 pm

How the heck does Tracy's high school, in a town that's roughly a 1mi square, not have a sidewalk connecting it to anything in the town? It's not a central location, but it's still in town. No wonder these towns get so dependent on state highways like 14...

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sdho
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Re: Condition of Minnesota Roads and what to do...

Postby sdho » February 17th, 2015, 2:27 pm

Mdcastle wrote:As for all the overpasses, remember the 1960s-1980s were not a high point in civil engineering.
So 35W/494 must have been built with some quality engineer and and craftsmanship, since it doesn't make the list. The 394/12 bridges are bizarre to me.

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Re: Condition of Minnesota Roads and what to do...

Postby xandrex » February 17th, 2015, 2:31 pm

mattaudio wrote:How the heck does Tracy's high school, in a town that's roughly a 1mi square, not have a sidewalk connecting it to anything in the town? It's not a central location, but it's still in town. No wonder these towns get so dependent on state highways like 14...
Without knowing much about Tracy specifically, but knowing how current high schools in rural Minnesota function, it's likely that a pretty big chunk of the students are not coming from within the city limits of Tracy, but instead driving or being bused in from the country. My grandparents live in a similar small town where students are brought in as far as 20+ miles away.

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Re: Condition of Minnesota Roads and what to do...

Postby Mdcastle » February 17th, 2015, 2:37 pm

My suggestion is simply raise the gasoline tax to what it needs to be to build more lanes and freeways, (as I only have interest in additional revenue to expand capacity, not to repress demand.) And we wouldn't have to deal with transponders that don't even work in Chicago or anywhere else in the country so you still have to throw change in a bucket every time you go to Chicago, or spend $69.00 to make a round trip to the Florida Keys if you rent a car in Miami since their roads don't even accept cash.

I'm not impressed by all the borrowing and funny money proposals the Republicans have come up with over the years. Borrowing to avoid construction inflation and accelerate the benefits is one thing, but it shouldn't be postponing the inevitable. If there actually is government waste that's one thing, but closing down rest areas and not painting the roads so often is quite another.

. If electric cars ever become feasible for the masses there will have to be a day of reckoning and maybe a switch to a mileage based tax, but that day isn't here now.

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Re: Condition of Minnesota Roads and what to do...

Postby acs » February 17th, 2015, 2:41 pm

Is this supposed to be sarcastic or do you really want to try as hard as possible to bankrupt us?

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Re: Condition of Minnesota Roads and what to do...

Postby sdho » February 17th, 2015, 3:06 pm

Mdcastle wrote:My suggestion is simply raise the gasoline tax to what it needs to be to build more lanes and freeways, (as I only have interest in additional revenue to expand capacity, not to repress demand.) And we wouldn't have to deal with transponders that don't even work in Chicago or anywhere else in the country so you still have to throw change in a bucket every time you go to Chicago, or spend $69.00 to make a round trip to the Florida Keys if you rent a car in Miami since their roads don't even accept cash.
Is repressing demand the same as distributing demand better throughout the day? I'm both happy to drive at another time than rush hour to save money (when that works) and to pay for the privilege of less congested roads during rush hour (when it doesn't). I should think most commuters stuck in regularly congested highways would feel the same way.

For outstate needs, the gas tax seems like a good proxy -- where almost everyone of driving age drives, and congestion is rarely the issue, usually it's a cost of repaving a road or improving safety of something.

OTOH, in the metro, our most expensive problems are specifically because of rush hour congestion -- things that require massive projects like the Crosstown Commons rebuild. I don't see why tolling shouldn't be part of the answer to that.


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