News about communities, transit, parks, water issues, regional planning

Media coverage of the Met Council and the Twin Cities region


Brooklyn Park residents have their say on the Bottineau LRT

Mshale - January 29, 2016

The City of Brooklyn Park held its first of two public hearings on the proposed Blue Line Extension on Monday, January 25th at the Brooklyn Park City Hall. The proposed 13 mile extension of the existing METRO Blue Line would extend from downtown Minneapolis through north Minneapolis, Golden Valley, Robbinsdale, Crystal and Brooklyn Park, serving the northwest Twin Cities.” If approved, the extension would provide easier access to the Northwest suburbs and faster public transit connections to popular destinations such as downtown Minneapolis, Mall of America and the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.

New Metro Transit BRT buses unveiled (video)

Kare11 TV - January 28, 2016

Metro Transit gave KARE 11 News a first peak at their newest weapon in the battle against commuter problems. It is the Twin Cities first Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) line.
The “A” line will begin service in Spring between Rosedale Mall and the 46th Street Station on the Blue Line light rail via Snelling Avenue in St. Paul and 46th Street in Minneapolis.
Twenty stations along the 10 mile route are currently under construction.
“It is brighter,” said Katie Roth, 'A Line' project manager. “It is a little bit taller and it has some different features that really stand out on the roadway.”

Courage Kenny, Allina Health support the Blue Line Extension

SunPost Letter to the Editor - January 19, 2016 

Allina Health and the Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute understand the importance of a robust, accessible transportation system. Our patients and employees at the Courage Kenny location in Golden Valley also know how valuable public transit services are, and that’s why we support the Blue Line Extension Light Rail Transitway Project and its planned station at Golden Valley Road.

Limited access to safe, reliable transportation has been shown to result in decreased opportunities for employment, education and recreation for certain populations and communities.This is especially true for persons with disabilities.

Rebates available for water-saving fixtures

White Bear Press, January 20, 2016

Residents of White Bear Lake and White Bear Township who replace water-guzzling toilets and washing machines can get some rebate help thanks to a new grant. 

The two municipalities teamed up in an effort to reduce the gallons of groundwater flushed down the Mississippi River and successfully won $73,000 in grant monies for a new program initiated by the Metropolitan Council.

Why the 2016 legislative session will be critical for Southwest LRT

MinnPost, January 14, 2016

By now, Adam Duininck’s presentation is etched mostly to memory, but he uses a few slides as a visual aid. The slides show existing and proposed train lines — orange, blue, green, red — shooting out from downtown Minneapolis and St. Paul like veins carving through the metro, connecting places like the Twins ballpark to the state Capitol, and the University of Minnesota to the corporate headquarters of Target.

“Why do people take trains?” Duininck, chair of the Metropolitan Council, said at his 20th presentation to a group in four months. This crowd included nearly 40 members of the Regional Council of Mayors. “It’s not just to move people around because it’s some kind of a social experiment. We want to accommodate future growth, we want to connect people to jobs, which means into the city and out into the suburban areas.”

Duininck is meeting with labor unions, chambers of commerce, planning commissions, legislators — basically, anyone who will listen — to make the pitch that the state should invest more in transit in the upcoming legislative session.

New study finds positive economic development benefits associated with bus rapid transit projects

Transportation for America, January 12, 2016

Bus rapid transit is a type of bus service that travels faster and more reliably by providing level boarding, triggering traffic signals, providing pre-board fare payment and running in dedicated lanes separated from traffic, among other typical characteristics. For the first time, a new peer-reviewed research study, unveiled this morning, provides compelling evidence that BRT — often with a price tag far lower than other transit investments — can provide ample economic benefits for cities large and small.

Minnesota's retirement population is about to explode. Are we ready?

Pioneer Press, December 21, 2015

By some standards -- in particular, those of AARP -- Minnesota is the best place to retire in the country.  Soon we'll get the chance to put that distinction to the test: The "Roaring Twenties" of the 20th century will become the "Retiring Twenties" of the 21st.

Starting in 2020 and lasting through 2030, for every one person of "working age" added to the Twin Cities metro area population, there will be 21 people added over the age of 65, according to Metropolitan Council data.

That bears repeating: 21 retirees added to the metro area for every incoming person age 25 to 64. For 10 years. This will lead to a staggering demographic shift: One that will nearly double the metro area's elderly population by 2040, when more than 1 in 5 people will be retired.

Met Council plotting ways to diversify staff

Finance and Commerce - January 7, 2016

The Metropolitan Council on Wednesday began outlining strategies for diversifying its workforce and boosting equity across its ranks in line with a broader push spearheaded by Gov. Mark Dayton.

Council members at a Committee of the Whole meeting expressed strong support for a more intentional approach to inclusion, noting racial and gender gaps in the agency’s 4,000-strong workforce. The aim mirrors a state-level diversity and inclusion council launched by the Dayton administration last year.


Metro Transit admirably tackles racial disparities


How tackling climate change will pay off

Tina Smith, StarTribune Opinion - Dec. 23, 2015

Minnesota is already a leader in reducing greenhouse-gas emissions, but we can — and certainly will — do even more. Much of Minnesota has experienced springlike temperatures this December, often in the 40s. Warmer weather has become the norm; since 1998, the Earth has experienced 10 of the warmest years on record. And 2015 is expected to break last year’s record as the warmest yet.

This is why we all should be celebrating that nearly 200 countries have reached consensus on a plan to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions. The Paris Climate Agreement puts the world on a path to avoid the worst effects of climate change by keeping any increase in global temperature below 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit.

Gov. Mark Dayton and I strongly support bold action to tackle climate change. Doing so will be good for our environment, good for our health and good for our economy.


How to Spend the Next Billion on Transit

Alex Cecchini, - December 22, 2015

The Twin Cities is gearing up to spend quite a bit of money on transit infrastructure over the next five-to-ten years. By my count, the Blue Line Extension (Bottineau LRT), Green Line Extension (Southwest LRT), Orange Line BRT, and Gold Line BRT will run a tab of nearly $4 billion. Some of these lines are more cost-effective than others, and they all certainly connect centrally-located transit riders with some of the (many) suburban job centers. Suburban commuters also benefit.
Here’s the rub: it’s not enough. Not even close. I’m going to throw some data in chart form at you to show why.

Met Council aims to deepen equity focus with new panel

Karlee Weimann, Finance & Commerce - Dec. 7, 2015
A new
equity advisory committee formed by the Metropolitan Council will zero in on racial and other disparities in the agency’s projects, policymaking and hiring practices.


The 21-member group, accepting applications through Jan. 4, sprouted from discussions that started last year between council members and staff. The Met Council decided to explicitly incorporate equity into its policymaking, a move that lines up with a recently updated public engagement plan.


Primarily, the committee will help steer the council’s investment strategy. That could include selecting where to build Metro Transit bus shelters and transit stations, Met Council Chair Adam Duininck said. “For us, this is a really important part of just doing ongoing civic engagement that’s authentic and connected to the community,” he said. “Having this equity advisory committee is a big part of that.”


Twin Cities' first rapid-transit bus line coming soon

Pioneer Press, Updated November 23, 2015
Metro Transit's quest to find a speedier option to connect the Twin Cities' light-rail lines and beyond is coming soon.
Starting next year, the "A Line," a $27 million bus rapid-transit project with features similar to light rail, will run along Snelling Avenue and Ford Parkway in St. Paul to connect Rosedale Center in Roseville to the 46th Street light-rail station in Minneapolis.
The line will be the first one established out of a dozen bus rapid-transit lines that the Metropolitan Council has proposed in recent years. It comes at a time when more Americans are settling in the urban core, reversing a decades-long trend of moving out to the suburbs.

A lot of people believe the Twin Cities needs more affordable housing; a lot fewer agree on where to build it

Peter Callaghan, MinnPost - Nov. 5, 2015
It looked exactly like a public forum on affordable housing, complete with a congressman and a cabinet secretary listening to concerns and complaints from residents and activists.

What it turned out to be, though, was something else — more like the opening session of a peace conference between warring factions.

Doing nothing is the costliest transit plan for Twin cities

Revised price for Bottineau light-rail line should be kept in perspective.

Editorial Board, Star Tribune, October 30, 2015
Investing in transit projects is expensive, but doing nothing to address growing gridlock would prove even more costly to the Twin Cities economy.

That’s the thought Minnesotans should keep in mind as they consider the nearly $500 million increase in the estimated cost of the proposed 13-mile Bottineau light-rail line (also called the Blue Line Extension) that would travel from Target Field in downtown Minneapolis to near Target’s corporate campus in Brooklyn Park.

The revised $1.48 billion price tag is not the result of any mismanagement by the Metropolitan Council, which would build and operate the line. The higher cost reflects the additional data now available after 15 percent of the engineering and environmental work has been completed. Previous estimates were based on just 1 percent of that work being finished.

Counterpoint: Kersten and her critics are wrong on housing plan

Mike Maguire, StarTribune, October 10, 2015
As the mayor of a successful suburban city, I value good data — it helps to develop a community plan and a path to prosperity. As in business, planning community success in a competitive and changing marketplace requires that we in local government understand the demographic and market trends that will affect our cities and the region we’re part of.

Two recent commentaries criticized the Metropolitan Council’s housing plan with different but equally tired and unproductive perspectives.


6-acre solar array unveiled at Blue Lake Wastewater Treatment plant

SW News, October 8, 2015
The Metropolitan Council, in conjunction with SunEdison, Oak Leaf Energy and Xcel Energy, unveiled a new 6-acre solar panel array at the Blue Lake Wastewater Treatment facility in Shakopee on Tuesday. The array will provide 1.57 megawatts of power to the facility, replacing 10 percent of the facility’s total energy needs with solar power.  “This is a great example of how public and private entities can work together,” Laura McCarten, regional vice president for Xcel Energy, said at the ceremony.


As Minnesota stalls, some states ramp up transportation funding
It’s important to stay competitive with critical infrastructure investment.

Star Tribune Editorial, October 6, 2015

Minnesota lawmakers hit the brakes instead of the accelerator on transportation funding this year, and that’s regrettable. But there’s some consolation in knowing that not every state has stalled on critical infrastructure.

Fifteen states passed major transportation packages in 2015. Seven raised gasoline taxes. Eight raised various driving fees. Four launched bonding programs to finance new roads or transit projects. Republicans controlled the governor’s office and both houses of the legislature in 10 of those 15 states, including six that raised taxes. Among the highlights:


Met Council chair takes risky but appropriate track on SWLRT's fate
Adam Duininck is right: Legislators need to make call on funds.

Star Tribune, September 9, 2015
The route to building or rejecting a southwesterly Green Line light-rail extension has taken so many turns that future historians of public policy may have trouble determining which moves mattered to the ultimate result. But chances are good that a decision that came to light last week will loom large in hindsight.

The decision: The state’s final $138 million share of the $1.74 billion project will be appropriated — or denied — by a vote of the politically divided 2016 Legislature. An end run that would have averted the need for legislative approval will not be attempted, Metropolitan Council chair Adam Duininck said.

Twin Cities transit triumph
Bolstered by the success of the Green Line LRT, Metro Transit is setting ridership records

Railway Age, September 9, 2015
This past June marked one year since public transportation operator Metro Transit, which covers the Twin Cities area, opened its $957 million, 11-mile Central Corridor LRT, the Green Line, connecting Minneapolis and Saint Paul. The Green Line is Metro Transit’s second LRT line after the Blue Line, which when it opened in 2004 marked the beginning of Metro Transit’s expansion into rail, a half-century after the last Twin Cities Rapid Transit streetcars were taken out of service.
Having served more than 11.1 million riders in its first year and generating about $3 billion in development along the corridor since construction on the line first began, Metro Transit General Manager Brian Lamb says the Green Line is about more than numbers.


Solar farms grow at wastewater plants in Minnesota

Midwestern Energy News, August 21, 2015

In early June, workers began the installation of a $3.5 million solar farm next to the Blue Lake Wastewater Treatment Plant in Shakopee, Minn.  It's part of an ambitious plan by the Metropolitan Council  -- a government agency dealing with mass transit, wastewater, parks and affordable housing for the seven-county Twin Cities region -- to use marginal land it owns for photovoltaic solar installations. Along with Blue Lake, the council is also doing a solar farm at another wastewater facility in suburban Empire Township.

To save water quality, think before you flush

Treatment plants can't handle some of those products being discarded
Star Tribune, August 21, 2015
You flush, and it goes away. Or does it?  There’s more going down the sewer pipes than you might imagine, and some of it is damaging stuff.

Newspaper headlines report the presence of drugs in our drinking water, male fish producing eggs, and the alarming fact that tiny plastic beads may be killing our lakes. It’s easy to ignore our role in all of this. We just assume that someone, somewhere, is dealing with our waste — if we think about it at all.


Affordable housing in the Twin Cities: the who, what, where and why

Pioneer Press, August 22, 2015
A new report from the Metropolitan Council indicates that the amount of affordable housing being built in the seven-county metro has hit a record low. This is occurring as luxury housing production picks up.  Here's a closer look at frequently asked questions about affordable housing in the Twin Cities:

Numbers tell the story of light-rail's steady growth in Twin Cities

It’s also key to consider future needs when judging transit. 

Star Tribune, August 3, 2015

 It’s been 11 years since Blue Line light-rail service began in the Twin Cities, and more than a year since that line acquired its Green companion, formerly known as the Central Corridor. Yet anecdotes and misimpressions continue to shape views of the two transit lines’ worth.

Mobility-based housing programs seek to move low-income families to low-poverty neighborhoods

Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis - July 27, 2015
When housing voucher recipients relocate to areas of greater opportunity, the positive outcomes can be long-lasting and substantial. When Rita Ytzen, a senior program supervisor at the Minneapolis Public Housing Authority (MPHA), discusses her organization’s relatively new initiative to help low-income families with children move to low-poverty areas, she uses words that evoke optimism and fresh starts.

“The hope is that if we can help impoverished people move to areas of greater opportunity, they’ll have access to better schools for their children and a safer environment in which to raise their families,” she says. “We want to help people who want to help themselves. We want to give them a second chance.”

Seizing the Moment to Affirmatively Further Fair Housing

National Housing Institute Roofline blog, June 3, 2015

Regional agencies like the Met Council guide billions of dollars in public investments—investments that shape the structure of opportunity and disadvantage across regions. The new fair housing rule provides a path forward to begin to channel these investments in ways that counteract decades of inequitable growth patterns and move us towards the vision of regional equity.

Chart of the Day: Data for Every City in the Metro, April 29, 2015

Hats off to the Met Council! When they’re not busy with pedestrian bridges and light rail planning, they provide amazing amounts of easily digestible data about Twin Cities communities. Check out the interface, which generates charts for different cities at the click of a button.

Ten suburban mayors: A growing, prosperous Twin Cities area needs transit
Businesses in our suburban communities need to access a workforce that lives beyond the borders of their cities.

Star Tribune Opinion, April 20, 2015

As suburban mayors, we aspire to see our cities thrive. We know that hard work and careful investment are essential to realizing those goals.

Through a challenging recession, public and private partnerships began to help our region prosper. Thanks to comprehensive planning and to the success of individual Minnesotans, our metropolitan area came roaring out of the Great Recession and is now touted as having one of the most successful regional economies in the country.

As our economy improves, our population continues to expand. By 2040, our state is projected to add more than 1 million residents, with 800,000 of those new arrivals living in the metro area. To accommodate this growth and reach our full potential, we need to make smart public investments to ensure continued private-sector success. We must invest in a first-rate education system, in research and development to help companies succeed and, just as important, in a world-class transportation system.


Today’s arguments about the Met Council were had at the time of its formation

Star Tribune Opinions, April 10, 2015
Back when the Metropolitan Council was formed, nearly 50 years ago, some of the same arguments about its members’ selection were raised as those in the letters on April 9. Appointments by the governor, elections by districts and other methods all were all discussed. In the end, the gubernatorial appointment option was approved.

One rationale was that another layer of campaigning and campaign spending would prove excessive, draining and perhaps confusing for voters who already faced choosing among candidates for state, legislative district, county, city and special district offices.





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