People in the Twin Cities metro area are on the move. Every day residents take nearly 10 million trips, whether it’s in a car, a bus or train, or by biking or walking. On weekdays, those trips total nearly 70 million miles.
Amidst all that movement regional transportation plans and policies help keep congestion and costs to a minimum, and ensure that people can get where they want to go, whether it’s work, school, the doctor’s office or grocery store.
On Jan. 14 the Metropolitan Council adopted the 2040 Transportation Policy Plan (TPP) for the metro area. It’s the region’s long-range transportation plan and sets the stage for investing in the transportation system to 2040--to ensure residents have the transportation choices they need now and in the future.
“It’s a robust plan that calls for investment in all modes of transportation and thoughtful, coordinated decision making between local units of government and the Council about the connections between land use and transportation,” said the Council’s Transportation Committee Chair Adam Duininck. “The region’s success depends on it.”
TPP promotes investment for mobility, livability, prosperity
Highways, transit, walking paths and biking provide mobility and important connections that fuel the economy. They are a network that is, and will be, indispensable to people’s lives, the movement of goods, the region’s quality of life, and economic prosperity as the region grows and changes.
By 2040, the metro area will grow by more than 800,000 people and 550,000 jobs. The number of residents 65 and older will nearly double what it is today. People of color will make up 40 percent of the region’s population. As the region evolves, it will need a mix of transportation choices to accommodate the needs of a growing, changing region.
The TPP is the region’s plan for helping to maintain and enhance what we have, better connect people and places, provide the transportation choices that help people in their everyday lives, and guide the growing region toward success and vibrancy for years to come.
Two funding scenarios
This new transportation plan provides a vision for transportation investment based on community engagement with people who say they want more connected communities, more transportation choices, more investment across the transportation network, and a transportation system that is maintained and managed effectively.
The plan includes two funding scenarios; one based on state and federal revenues from current funding streams, and a second scenario based on the availability of additional highway and transit funding.
Under the current revenue scenario:
The region is estimated to receive $84 billion in transportation funds from state and federal sources between 2015 and 2040. Of that, $42 billion would go for local transportation, $11 billion for state highways, and $31 billion for transit.
A majority of funds for state highways would pay for maintenance, management, and repair of the existing metropolitan highway system. Another priority is investments that improve mobility on the existing highway system.
For transit, the $31 billion anticipated through 2040 will support the existing transit system – including regular-route buses and trains – and build out a system of transit corridors.
Through 2024, four additional METRO lines will be built: the METRO Orange Line, the extensions of both the METRO Blue and Green lines, and the METRO Gold Line: a dedicated bus rapid transit line in the Gateway Corridor. The expansion also includes three new arterial bus rapid transit lines, with construction of the first line on Snelling Avenue beginning in 2015.
A number of other corridors are being studied, but have not yet identified a preferred mode and route. Additional investment of at least $2.4 billion is anticipated to support improvements in these corridors, which include Red Rock, Riverview, and Robert Street.
The increased revenue scenario:
This scenario accounts for any additional revenue the region might receive as a result of changes in state or federal policy. Under an Increased Revenue Scenario, the region has an unmet funding need totaling upwards of an additional $8-10 billion for state highways and an additional $7-9 billion needed for transit investment.
For highways, any additional revenue would be allocated as follows:
Up to an additional $1 billion for highway operations and maintenance
Between $2 billion and $2.5 billion in additional funding for rebuilding the highway system
Between $4 and $5 billion for improvements that create more capacity
An additional $600 million for safety and highway-related bicycle and accessible pedestrian improvements.
This broader vision for transit investment includes an additional $2-3 billion for bus service and facility expansion. Also, an additional $5-6 billion in transitway expansion, which would include seven additional transitways, two extensions of transitways, and a system of 11 arterial bus rapid transit projects.
New and improved TPP
What makes this plan different from previous versions is greater emphasis on the relationship between local development decisions and transportation investment.
Transit investment shapes and is shaped by local development decisions. The effectiveness of both transit and local development depend not only on transit investment, but also on local action. A strong partnership between the Council and local units of government will be key to making transportation investments that go hand-in-hand with local development decisions to create the best market response possible.
“This plan builds on previous transportation policies, but is the first to highlight the role that local development decisions play in the success of the transportation system,” said Duininck. “It’s important to recognize the connection between community development and transportation investments.”
The TPP provides guidance to local communities on development density and local infrastructure necessary to assure the success of certain types of transportation investment.
The TPP also highlights the regional bicycle system by identifying key existing corridors and opportunities for connection to regional destinations and job centers. Connecting local biking and walking networks to the regional system promotes livability, mobility, and connects people to places.
Guidance for local governments
The TPP is not one to sit on a shelf somewhere. Local governments use it to guide local comprehensive plans that are submitted to the Council to review for consistency with regional plans.
The TPP also includes suggested best practices for local governments, as well as guidance for how regional funds will be prioritized so local governments can evaluate needs and plan for any necessary regional infrastructure.
The transportation plan must be updated at least every four years to ensure the Twin Cities region is eligible for federal transportation funds.
The Metropolitan Council is the regional planning organization for the seven-county Twin Cities metro area. It runs the regional bus and light rail system and Northstar Commuter rail. The Council collects and treats wastewater, manages regional water resources, plans regional parks, and administers funds that provide housing opportunities for low- and moderate-income individuals and families. The Council is appointed by and serves at the pleasure of the governor.