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Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Over 40 Red Rock Corridor Decision Makers Unable to Provide Answers About New Route

1/2017: Check out my interview on HastingsTV where I talk about the Red Rock Corridor, Route 363, and what modes of public transit actually work for South Washington County: Tom Bullington's Everybody Loves Politics: Matt Behning

12-21-16:
It's been an entire year... still no answer to our now ONE question:
How can this new route possibly cost 62% less  than the already built $112 million dollar Red Line Corridor in Apple Valley? It has the same number of stations, yet the Red Rock corridor will be over twice the length (13 vs 30 miles)? see link for why this is the one question: 

Red Rock Corridor Faces Delays as 7 Facts Become Undeniable

10-26-16 Open House: A tax payer who attended, printed out this article and asked the County Staff at the event to answer the one Question from the Original 3 we asked in December 2015. The corridor planner at the event, Lyssa Leitner, did not know the answer. She put him in contact with the contracted planner who stated they were not familiar with the Red Line. Which still does not answer the question about the ridiculous low cost estimate of the project.

8-16 update: We still had no response so we asked again on the 15th and Commissioner Greene responded "With your blessing I'd like to run a little interference for Lyssa Leitner. With all the back-and-forth, and then the permanent state of flux caused by the legislative session, and the lack of a special legislative session, she has really had her hands full - and will for the foreseeable future." 

This is of course a disturbing response from an elected official so we responded to all 40 leaders asking why one question can not be answered. See the email: "8 months to respond to one serious Red Rock Corridor Q is not time enough?"

7-16 update: We didn't get a response so we brought it down to just one question. How can this new route possibly cost 62% less  than the already built $112 million dollar Red Line Corridor in Apple Valley, have the same number of stations, yet be over twice the length (13 vs 30 miles)?

3-16 update:
still no answers despite Commissioner Greene of Hennepin County trying to help. So we emailed her that if the six questions were too pressing than how about at least these two questions. She agreed to try to get one of the 40+ leaders to get answers:

"
two unanswered questions that even supporters of the project are very interested to know:

I:  Why not include feeder bus lines to the corridor from outside communities and limit the station stops so riders are not taking over an hour to make a trip that would only take 20 minutes in a car? 

II: How can this new route possibly cost 62% less  than the already built $112 million dollar Red Line Corridor in Apple Valley? It has the same number of stations, yet the Red Rock Corridor will be over twice the length (13 vs 30 miles)"

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

This post is part 3 on the coverage of the now approved Red Rock Corridor (RRC) route change that has doubled the number of station stops from 6 to 12, among other changes. The planners call it "The Implementation Plan". 

Part 1 began with the following post in December 2015 how Washington County Refuses to Disclose Latest Red Rock Corridor Cost Analysis
Part 2 in January 2016 revealed Proof Washington County Mislead us all about the Red Rock Corridor

The RRC Commission was unphased and on January 28th 2016 they approved the route change while the public had no access to the study data they based their decision on. On February 26th, the Implementation plan data was finally posted for the public. 

To prove to you that every single decision maker with this corridor could care less about the unaccountable disaster that this corridor has become I emailed over 40 leaders involved with the corridor decision making (posted below). I asked them to at least answer our questions. Only Hennepin County Commissioner Marion Greene responded. On February 16th Greene asked if her summarized version of my questions were correct (they were). She has yet to follow up. Even as of July 2016 when we emailed again asking if there's an answer. (and multiple more times)

I reviewed the Implementation Plan data and emailed my interpretation to the same 40+ decision makers and also received no reply.  

Quick Recap:
We know the plan reworks the corridor in an attempt to add ridership to the project at the cost of functionality. With the sacrifice of speed (the whole point of Bus "Rapid" Transit) they doubled the transit stops and took the buses further off the highway to loop about a larger service area. On paper, the plan doubles their service; however it will now take just over an hour to make a commute that would take 20 minutes in a car. 

We also know the plan attempts to rewrite history on the original cost estimate of the 6 stop corridor in order to make the cost of the 12 stop plan appear better. However, this tactic is not new, they took the $75 million quote on the 6 stop corridor plan in the 2007 AA study and brought it down to $45 million in the 2013 AAU study.

What's new:
In the Implementation plan data I found the huge cuts in costs were from apparently making up new costs from their previous studies with decreases in expense estimates on not only quantity but also unit costs... even for the same previously studied 6 stop BRT route.

For example, on the 2013 AAU study it was assumed a bus costs $700,000 on average and that 20 buses were needed for $14.3 million (p.7 of AAU pdf). In the Implementation plan they miraculously drop to just $500,000 and say they only planned to need 9 buses for the same 6 stop route for a cost that was only $4.7 million (p.16). That's almost $10 million dollar difference for what's supposed to be the same route's bus needs!


This is just for the bus costs! 

Three of their own different studies (AA, AAU, and Implementation) with the same exact route plan (a 6 stop BRT corridor) should not have very different cost estimates of $75, $45, and $28.6 million respectively... At least not without serious explanation. All citizens have is silence and no answers to valid questions. 

Again, to the 40+ elected and appointed officials below: This is your project with our (tax payer) money. Does no one care?

-Matt Behning

Red Rock Corridor Staff:
Lyssa Leitner, Washington County Red Rock Corridor Chief Planner, Lyssa.Leitner@co.washington.mn.us>
,
Hally Turner, Washington County Transportation Planner, hally.turner@co.washington.mn.us
Jan Lucke, Washington County Transportation Planning Manager, jan.lucke@co.washington.mn.us>

Don Theisen, Washington County Director of Public Works, Don.Theisen@co.washington.mn.us,
Matt Parent, Dakota County Transit Specialist, matthew.parent@co.dakota.mn.us
Laura Kearns, Washington County Office Specialist, laura.kearns@co.washington.mn.us

Washington County Commissioners:
karla.bigham@co.washington.mn.us
,
gary.kriesel@co.washington.mn.us,
lisa.weik@co.washington.mn.us 
fran.miron@co.washington.mn.us,
State Representatives:
rep.denny.mcnamara@house.mn,
rep.pat.garofalo@house.mn
sen.dave.thompson@senate.mn

rep.dan.schoen@house.mn
Hastings City Council Members:
Mayor Paul Hicks, mayorhicks@hastingsmn.gov
Lori Braucks, lbraucks@hastingsmn.gov
Mark Vaughan, mvaughan@hastingsmn.gov

Anthony Alongi, aalongi@hastingsmn.gov
Joe Balsanek, JBalsanek@hastingsmn.gov
Tony Nelson, tnelson@hastingsmn.gov

Danna Elling Schultz, DEllingschultz@hastingsmn.gov

St. Paul Park City Council Members:

mayor Keith Franke, kfranke@stpaulpark.org,

Sandi Dingle, sdingle@stpaulpark.org,
Jeff Swenson, jswenson@stpaulpark.org,
Tim Jones, tjones@stpaulpark.org,
Jennifer Cheesman, jcheesman@stpaulpark.org,


Cottage Grove City Council:
Mayor Myron Bailey, myronbailey@aol.com

Jen Peterson, councilmemberjen@aol.com
David Thiede, thiededj@gmail.com

Justin Olsen, olsenforcg@aol.com

Newport City Council:
Mayor Tim Geraghty, timghty@gmail.com
Bill Sumner, sumner.newport@gmail.com
Tom Ingemann tingemann@comcast.net

Tracy Rahm, councilmanrahm@gmail.com
Dan Lund, danlund@live.com

Met Council:
Adam Duininck, Chair of Met Council, 
Adam.Duininck@metc.state.mn.us

Other decision makers on Red Rock Corridor Commission who were not mentioned previously:
Marion Greene, Hennepin County Commissioner, marion.greene@hennepin.us
Janice Rettman, Ramsey County Commissioner, janice.rettman@co.ramsey.mn.us
Mike Slavik, Dakota County Commissioner, mike.slavik@co.dakota.mn.us
Cam Gordon, Minneapolis City Councilor, cam.gordon@minneapolismn.gov,

Jim Mcdonough, Ramsey County Regional Railroad Authority member, jim.mcdonough@co.ramsey.mn.us,
Kevin Roggenbuck, Ramsey County Regional Railroad Authority member, kevin.roggenbuck@co.ramsey.mn.us

Others involved in decision making:
Lynne Bly from MDOT, lynne.bly@dot.state.mn.us,

Related County Corridor Articles:
At Her Own Crossroads: Will Representative Fenton Lead or Appease