Search This Blog

Monday, January 11, 2016

Lake Elmo Kicks Gateway Corridor out!

 Since last year when the Lake Elmo city Council unanimously voted in support of allowing the Gateway Corridor/Gold Line to come through their city I had begun warning them about the facts of the Corridor and what it would do:

Lake Elmo Will Have to Accept Major Development with the Gateway Corridor/ Gold Line


Mailed every resident of Lake Elmo who'd attended council meeting
The "slow growth" majority of the Lake Elmo city council made up of Anne Smith, Julie Fliflet, and Julie Lundgren were initially shy to believe the evidence I shared. They assured me they had the Gateway Corridor planners promised they'd not force anything on them.  Things like high density housing, low income housing, and box store shopping centers.

In a last ditch effort I turned to the Lake Elmo voters and mailed every single resident of Lake Elmo who had attended a city council meeting over the last two years a copy of my article above. It's to these voter's credit for listening and speaking up to their city Council. Thankfully they were able to change their Council's mind.


At the January 5th Lake Elmo City Council meeting they voted 3-2 to kick the corridor out (Mayor Pearson and Coulcilor Bloyer voting for the corridor). Councilor Anne Smith sent me an e-mail stating 
"Hey Matt,
You are uncharacteristically silent.  The vote is over. Gold line is out.

 With the corridor out of Lake Elmo this likely means the Corridor will again be studied to pass on the south side of I-94 on the Woodbury side that has more congested and winding roads. The Woodbury side was initially ruled out as an option for the corridor for this very reason. Add to that the fact it cost tens of millions more to transform the roadways to accommodate dedicated shoulders for the corridor there.

Added costs for the nearly half a billion dollar corridor was not an acceptable option, nor was making the corridor stray even further from it's intended purpose. That is to be a Bus "Rapid" Transit corridor (BRT). Winding down back roads and stopping every block with a stop light in addition to stopping at all the stations adds a significant amount of commute time... Especially if the corridor is competing with the express bus routes (park and ride) that already serve the area and are promised to not be affected with the opening of this corridor. Why ride a bus that can barely get over 30mph when you can ride direct in your car or on the express bus route direct to the inner city?

The Pioneer Press is even covering the undeniable controversy with this unpopular route stating:
"At $485 million, it's a bus line that would be more expensive per passenger than any light-rail line in the state. It would be the state's second-most-expensive transportation link per passenger ever built -- exceeded only by a bus line from Apple Valley to the Mall of America."

Is the $485M St. Paul-to-Woodbury Gold Line bus worth it?

Would the Gateway Corridor even be practical on it's back road path? Grocery shop at the Sunray shopping center and by the time you get home your frozen food is melted and your produce is bruised from the shuffle (and better not buy more than a couple bags).... it makes no sense and at one of the latest Open Houses for the corridor about a hundred senior citizens and local residents spoke up as reported by AlphanewsMN:

Why this is all very important to stop:
The bill to Quadruple the metro sales tax to fund unsustainable transit projects like the Gateway/ Gold Line and Red Rock Corridor passed the Senate the 2015 session with 3 of our Washington County Legislators: Katie Sieben, Susan Kent, and Charles Wiger. Thankfully it didn't pass in the House. The bill is tabled until the 2016 session.








 -Matt Behning

Read more on our related coverage:
Contact your State Representatives through "who represents me:" http://www.leg.state.mn.us/leg/districtfinder

Contact our County Commissioners and tell them we need to get out of the CTIB tax:
fran.miron@co.washington.mn.us 
gary.kriesel@co.washington.mn.us 
lisa.weik@co.washington.mn.us     
karla.bigham@co.washington.mn.us

Friday, January 1, 2016

Proof Washington County Mislead us all about the Red Rock Corridor

1-14-16: Last open house on the Red Rock Corridor was yesterday regarding the massive route change to DOUBLE the station stops  We were there, but the technical analysis data to help residents understand the detailed cost and other differences between the routes was not. Lyssa Leitner, the corridor planner said they plan to post them for the public in two days. See Part 1 to this article: Washington County Refuses to Disclose Latest Red Rock Corridor Cost Analysis

2-26-16: The Implementation data was finally posted nearly a month after the January 28th Commission vote.



Last month I wrote about how 
Washington County Refuses to Disclose Latest Red Rock Corridor Cost Analysis despite the fact they are making the final route decision later this month. The differences between the two routes are big. The original route (Alternate 1) was picked from the 2013 Alternative Analysis Update study (AAU) it has only 6 stations and takes a near direct route from Hastings to Union Depot in St. Pual; The Alternate 2 route was picked from an extra transit study called the "implementation plan," it doubles the station stops to 12 and takes over an hour to go from Hastings to Union Depot with all the stops (p.15 of 12/2 meeting). Alternate 1 had a claimed cost of $45.8 million (p. 14 of AAU pdf) and Alternate 2 somehow has a claimed cost of just $43.7 million on the vague implementation plan the County refuses to explain or release the data on publicly.

(The 2007 AA study had the Alternate 1 route estimated at $75 million [p.13]) 



Apparently to make this new Alternate 2 route appealing to the public the County corridor planners are telling the public and the media the original route only ever cost $28.6 million despite all the overwhelming evidence from their own studies proving otherwise. Come to find out they're fully aware they're misleading us all with these wildly low cost estimates; because in private they're applying for grants with the apparent real numbers at the same time they're telling us completely different low ball figures.

At the same time the County tells it's citizens the Alternate 1 cost is only $28.6 million
they're applying for CTIB funding stating the actual original route cost is $55.5 million.

From their September 2015 application to CTIB for a $150,000 grant (ironically to extend this $550,000 study) they state  the original route estimate is $40 million for construction plus another $15.5 million for the buses and other costs for a total of $55.5 million for the original 6 stop route!(on page 23 of the pdf) Not $28.6 million and perhaps higher than the 2013 AAU estimate of $45.8 million due to inflation or the fact they've changed their mind about the Cottage Grove station stops by shying away from the Langdon Village stop. (who knows because they refuse to explain).

We know this $55.5 million dollar quote is for the original Alternate 1 route by looking at page 23 of the CTIB application. They don't mention the additional station stops of Mounds Boulevard, Earl Street, Etna Street, Saint Paul Park, 2 different stops in cottage grove (no longer one at Langdon Village) and now 3 in Hastings (see their implementation plan site)... only the locations of the five needed stops are on the application (union depot not mentioned because it's already built). The only station stops listed are: "Lower Afton, Newport, Cottage Grove and Hastings Station Improvementswith 1 on Lower Afton rd, 1 in Newport, 2 in Cottage Grove, and 1 in Hastings. (St. Paul Park was never in Original plan yet it's on their implementation plan image, but not in the AAU see page 43 of pdf...so that just another flaw on their part)

The local media, through the South Washington County Bulletin, was quick to publish without questioning the bad numbers in this December article "Six more stops identified for possible Red Rock BRT route" I've explained in the past to them how ridiculous the estimates for this corridor are by simply asking them to consider the fact the Red Line BRT corridor in Apple Valley cost $112 million with six stations and less than half the distance! However, most recently I emailed the editor of the Bulletin Scott Wente asking him to have the article corrected and he responded over a week ago "Thanks for your note. I'll check on the need for a correction.There's still no correction. Even though it contradicts their own piece from 2014: "With a price tag of around $45 million in capital costs, BRT, Leitner said, is a more financially feasible option compared to the $585 million needed to get commuter rail off the ground." swcbulletin.com/content/bus-rapid-transit-chosen-red-rock-corridor

It would be great if the Bulletin fixed the article and actually began looking into why the County is getting away with all this... perhaps I just answered my own question. If the media did their job there'd be no need to write these posts.


I just want the truth out. Please share this post, email your silent County Commissioners who voted this through, local legislators, and representatives. Both the Red Rock Corridor and the Gateway Corridor are disasters with all the evidence showing they'll be massive white elephants for a transit problem existing infrastructure could be adjusted to meet the need of for literally hundreds of millions less.

-Matt Behning

Related County Corridor Articles:
At Her Own Crossroads: Will Representative Fenton Lead or Appease
Exclusive: 8 local Republican Legislators Explain their Position on Transit

At least the Pioneer Press is waking up to how bad one of these corridors are in this piece from Bob Shaw:

Is the $485M St. Paul-to-Woodbury Gold Line bus worth it?

"At $485 million, it's a bus line that would be more expensive per passenger than any light-rail line in the state. It would be the state's second-most-expensive transportation link per passenger ever built -- exceeded only by a bus line from Apple Valley to the Mall of America."

Contact our County Commissioners:
fran.miron@co.washington.mn.us         
gary.kriesel@co.washington.mn.us    
lisa.weik@co.washington.mn.us             
karla.bigham@co.washington.mn.us

Contact your State Representatives through "who represents me:" http://www.leg.state.mn.us/leg/districtfinder





You know it's time to Stop expanding failed transit projects like the Gateway/ Gold Line and Red Rock Corridor when not even the 2014 Democrat controlled House, Senate, and Governor's office Would increase the tax to pay for it.








The bill to Quadruple the metro sales tax to fund unsustainable transit projects like the Gateway/ Gold Line and Red Rock Corridor passed the Senate the 2015 session with 3 of our Washington County Legislators: Katie Sieben, Susan Kent, and Charles Wiger. Thankfully it didn't pass in the House. The bill is tabled until the 2016 session.