Council work is recognized nationally
As we approach the end of 2016 and prepare for the year ahead it is an appropriate time to reflect on all we have accomplished in the last year. I’d like to highlight a few achievements that demonstrate excellence across the Met Council.
I’ll start with the service that few in our region stop to think about until there’s a problem: wastewater treatment. But the successful efforts of our Environmental Services division are not something to take for granted. In addition to meeting our clean-water discharge permits 24/7, 365 days a year, we have reduced our fossil-fuel energy consumption and advanced solar energy in the region; we’re supporting local efforts to conserve water and reuse stormwater; and we’re undertaking a multi-year sewer interceptor rehabilitation program that will ensure the integrity of our wastewater collection system for decades to come. In 2016 the National Association of Clean Water Agencies recognized our integrated, “One Water” approach by designating the division a “Water Utility of the Future Now.” More about Environmental Services' great work.
Metro Transit had an outstanding year. We launched the new A Line Rapid Bus Service. This new high-tech connection running on Snelling Avenue in Saint Paul to Ford Parkway links the Green and Blue LRT lines. It has been so successful that overall ridership for all modes of transit in that corridor is up by 35 percent from the previous year.
Meanwhile, we worked diligently to keep the Southwest LRT expansion project on track, with the final signoff by the Federal Transit Administration expected next summer. It was a tremendous achievement for our agency that the American Public Transit Association named Metro Transit the System of the Year in 2016.
Community Development took their planning game to a whole new level in 2016, by implementing a new web-based set of planning tools for the 181 communities we work with. This new online Local Planning Handbook provides a virtual library of resources to link communities with the planning resources they need. Communities who use the handbook were our partners in developing it, so the resources are tailored to their needs.
Whether it is the Metro HRA’s new mobility counseling for people in need of affordable housing, or our Parks staff researching how to make our regional park system more accessible to more people, a common thread in all this work is partnerships with the stakeholders and communities we serve. Our commitment to engagement is what will keep the Metropolitan Council on the cutting edge of innovation as we look towards 2017 and beyond.