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Monday, January 23, 2017

Red Rock Corridor Plan Falls Apart Now Wants to be Called Route 363

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
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The Red Rock Corridor. A 30 mile Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) corridor from Hastings to St. Paul 
Faces Delays as 7 Facts Become Undeniable, as one of our original articles state. In the article you see the corridor's planning history filled with evidence of attempts to manipulate the public's understanding of the corridor. Whether it's being deceptive on the cost of the corridor, to approving a plan to double the number of station stops in attempt to get ridership numbers to build on paper. This last ploy, was titled the "implementation plan" it cost tax payers $550,000 and apparently it's being thrown out the window for the latest change.

The newest plan ditches the 12 stop corridor plan and even the original 6 stop plan in favor of turning the Red Rock Corridor into a local bus route. Millions have been invested in planning and re-planning this "Bus Rapid Transit" corridor to try to make the plan work to gain coveted federal funding. But no matter how they twisted the numbers they weren't even close to the feds who'd like ridership over 2,000 riders a day. So now the new plan is to re-brand and look under any rock they can for funds to keep the corpse of this terrible corridor idea moving forward. (read on to see why it's so bad) The BRT plan is now a "long term" design for the year 2040!

At the  September 2016 Corridor Commission meeting they explain since they can't get the Red Rock Corridor built they should get funding for a bus route they can later rename the Red Rock Corridor: 
"The proposed Route 363 is a local bus route acting as a precursor to BRT implementation in this corridor."

Route 363:
By doing this the corridor, if you can call it that anymore, can apply for funding from all new sources that have no idea how bad the corridor idea is. The plan was set and they applied  to the Met Council for $5.9 million to go towards building the $7.8 million dollar route. On the application it is called Route 363 which is a bus route will run with existing express bus routes 361, 364, and 365 that currently serve the Cottage Grove area. This new Route is planning to have 1,200 riders a day and is a ridiculous prediction as route 361, 364, and 365 have a combined ridership of just 475 riders a day!  (sourced here under number 5 from Metro Transit's latest study)

Read more about Route 363 on the Metro Transit's Service Improvement Plan (SIP) just hit "ctrl + f" on the key board and search "363." It was such a bad idea that Metro Transit even passed up investing in it last year. 

Funding denied From Met Council:
On January 18th the Met Council denied the funding request for the route according to Elaine Koutsoukos head of the Met Council's TAB (Transportation Advisory Board). It serves an embarrassing failure to the Corridor planners who were hoping to pull off pushing the Red Rock Corridor forward in butchered down form. It marks the second denial from the Met Council to invest in the corridor after they were denied funding to build low income housing by the Newport Transit Station. You know a transit corridor is a terrible idea when the Met Council turns you down time and time again.

Newport Transit Station will hurt Route 363:
The least popular of the three routes is route 364 which has the longest ride time since it stops at the Newport Transit Station which is isolated and has no direct connection to the Highway. This evidenced in the ridership which is a dismal 37 rides a day or just 18 riders a day (same Metro Transit source as above). Route 363 will incorporate the unpopular Newport Transit Station. 

Ridership predictions we can't trust:
In the October 2016 Corridor Commission meeting they claim 1,200 riders a day will be using route 363. This ridership prediction is ridiculous as it's Two and a half times the combined amount of our 3 current express bus routes as stated earlier. We know ridership predictions from corridor planners are extremely off. In 2012, the year before the Red Line Corridor was built just 20 miles south, they predicted 1800 riders a day OVER the express bus ridership... turns out they were 1,000 riders a day short! The Northstar Corridor expected 12,000 riders a day and only got 2,000. 

But they're going to run all day service and have more buses they say. 
Surely if we simply send enough buses back and forth from relatively rural South Washington County all day long the ridership will multiply two and a half times.... False! We can say this with certainty because for 3 years the Red Line has been staring us in the face with the evidence of only 835 riders a day.

The Red Line in Apple Valley as evidence:
We know route 363 will fail because this experiment has already been tried with the Red Line Corridor. Finished in 2013 the corridor has just 835 riders a day according the latest 2015 MNDOT Guideways status report. This is Solid evidence because the population there is three times more dense, serving a road with twice even the 2030 volume of hwy 61 for route 363, and they have more concentrated shopping centers and housing down there. (sourced here under number 4)

$5.5 million a year to operate:
Worst of all the operating costs for Route 363 will be higher than the Red Line Corridor. Local tax payers will be on the hook to cover the $5.5 million a year to operate the bus line burning diesel. Not to mention the wear and tear on the local streets caused by the heavy buses. How much damage? Take the example of just one dump truck to operate in Washington County in our state they have to pay over $4,000 a year to city, state, and counties to cover road damage.

How bad is this Route 363 that will become the Red Rock Corridor? Here's all Seven massive reasons the corridor will be a failure and the evidence to prove it is sourced (I only shared two of seven):

How do we know the Corridor will be so terrible? How about the fact none of the 40 planners can answer just One question:
Over 40 Red Rock Corridor Decision Makers Unable to Provide Answers About New Route

Stay tuned for updates as Senator Dan Schoen has a bill to fund this corridor despite all the evidence it's a terrible idea.

-Matt Behning

List of Tens of Millions in Pork in 2017 Bonding Bill


3/2017 update: 
Response from Legislators was not good:

2/2017 update: I've now testified 3 times now against the wasteful spending in this bill and not one cent or one wasteful project has been removed from this bill yet. Senator Senjem emailed me and stated "I appreciate your perspective.  There are projects in this bill that wish were not part of it."
okay, if you don't like parts of the bill than cut them. He hasn't responded. Please consider helping testify against the parts of this bill that clearly are not needed.

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My letter to Senate Committee hearings regarding the Pork filled bonding bill SF210 that is being heard. Please read and consider attending the hearings. In the least please submit testimony and email and call the committee members. Worst of all is sending start up money to start more failed transit corridors. When you look over the list think to yourself "why would all the tax payers of the State be involved with funding this?"

This bill looks similar to:

Also, many state reps including Nick Zerwas believe we have no business writing a bonding bill until a responsible budget bill is signed into law. Believing things will move far more smoothly for both.


Was heard in Capital investment committee in late January with no changes except adding more spending to some much needed road projects.  Bill authors refuse to respond. 

Dear committee members:

Sorry to be so frank but looking at the pork in SF210  I'm shocked:
http://www.senate.mn/committees/2017-2018/1002_Committee_on_Capital_Investment/2017%20Capital%20Investment%20--%202017%20Senate%20Omnibus%20Bonding%20Bill%20(SF210)%20--%201-19-2017.pdf

1.) Why are you even wasting time crafting bonding bill deals when the budget isn't passed? You can use the Bonding deal to leverage a responsible budget. "No fiscally responsible budget no bonding bill DFL."

2.) Pork for colleges that are not lowering tuition ($189.1 million total):
$27 million for yet ANOTHER building at UMD (Materials Science Building)
$4.4 million for a "Plant Growth" research building.
$25.3 million for Winona State "education village".
$18.5 million for St. Cloud State "Student Health" building renovation

$9.9 million to connect buildings at Hibbing Community College

3.) Red Lake school district with 3 to 5% reading proficiency according to schooldigger.com... you want to hand them a check for $14 million dollars to build a new school building?!!! If I was a Native American I'd be insulted that legislators think they can throw money at a problem that is directly related to an unaccountable school system... not the lack of a multimillion dollar fancy school.

4.) $1.5 million so Olmsted County can buy land for a "Dyslexia Institute of MN"

5.) $9.3 million so Polk County can add a garbage incinerator to handle burning garbage more info about these things here in Washington County and their harm to the environment and waste of tax dollars:
Washington/Ramsey County $170 million dollar Garbage Processing Plant, 6 Months In; Failing? Counties Refuse to Answer.

6.) $4 million for a "Minnesota Zoological Garden" at the MN Zoo

7.) $10.8 million for the Centennial Parking Ramp

8.) $1.9 million for a "Pioneer Public Television" station in the middle of nowhere Granite Falls?! (That's a State responsibility?!)

9.) ONLY $2.5 million for military support

10.) $1.1 million for Hugo's railway... a railway that is so short and useless it's just a cute addition to Hugo and White Bear!

11.) A $750,000 pedestrian bridge in the middle of nowhere Grand Rapids... if a precedent to fund every small town 3/4 of a million dollar pedestrian bridge was made the state would be bankrupt.

12.) $11.1 million to be given to for profit airports? Now $8.4 million as of March 8th

13.) $12.1 million to the unelected met council for the Orange Line
and $8.75 million to the unelected met council for the MOA transit station.
What part of not building anymore lines is hard to comprehend?

14.) $12 million to just pay for part of a Sea Lion habitat at the Como Zoo

15.) $57.6 million for a demolish and rebuild the "Security Hospital" in St. Peter (town of 12,000 people)

16.) ONLY $5,000 for Veteran "asset Preservation"

17.) $4.5 million for a dentist facility in Bemidji 

18.) $15 million for their "Steam Plant" renovations (why does all of MN have to pay for that?)

19.) $5 million for a "center for the arts" in Hennepin County

20.) $8 million for a "Arrowhead Wellness Center" in Hermantown

21.) $5 million for a "Norway House" in Minneapolis "to celebrate the culture of Norway and American Norwegians"

22.) $3 million of a food bank in Crookston (there isn't a church that'd be willing to host it?)

23.) $4.5 million to refurbish a Performing arts Theater in Red Wing

24.) $13 million for st. paul Science museum

25.) $6 million for St. Paul Port Authority museum of American Art

26.) St. Paul - Dorothy Day Opportunity Center for homeless people $12,000,000  (they're tearing down the old center that is perfectly useful)

-Matt Behning

 $1.6 BILLION 2017 Bonding Bill. Legislators Say They Refuse to Cut Any Pork.GOP Senate Passes $5.8 Billion Transportation Bill with $180 Million to Met Council & Mass Transit a Huge RaiseVice Chair Rep. Petersburg Promises No Transit Bills in 2017 House Transportation Omnibus BillFour GOP Legislators are Silent After Attempt to Sneak Funding for Mass Transit in Omnibus Bill  Four Reasons Rep. Kelly Fenton was a Terrible Choice for a Republican Assistant Majority Leader  



3/2017 update:There was a small decrease in the bill amount due to about 3 adjustments. Likely requests moved to a different bill




Saturday, January 21, 2017

Proposed Mahtomedi Ice Arena will Violate Purchase Agreement if Built on Former Dump Site

By: 
Shannon Pohl Bryant

NOTICE: To the taxpayers, community and Mahtomedi Hockey Parents, we the taxpayers of the Mahtomedi School District request you immediately STOP and cease giving any further donations to Rinc 2 Inc. to build a private hockey arena on the former Bellaire Sanitation Site, directly west of Wildwood Elementary. 


For one many taxpayers have many concerns about the safety of this site. But most important is the 2004 Sales Purchase Agreement between Seller Waste Management of Minnesota, Inc. and Purchaser Mahtomedi School District.
(here's a few pages of the 60 page document

The purchase agreement contains a "perpetual" and never ending restricted covenant on building ANY structure requiring footings or foundation over the "MMDA" Mixed Municipal Disposal Area, this is the exact location of the proposed hockey arena. 

Community members strongly feel that it is in the best interest of the taxpayers of ISD 832 to not get in to litigation with multi-million dollar company Waste Management, who did not end on good terms with this school district after the school district refused to give back their $400,000 escrow deposit. 

This group feels terrible for the hard working families that already donated significant dollars to this project. WE don't understand if this is ignorance on the part of Mahtomedi School District or dishonesty, as the school district is attempting to collect a $500,000 escrow deposit for this project. However, the lease for the proposed hockey arena to Rinc 2 Inc. was approved by the School Board in September. 

School Board Members Kevin Donovan and Judith Schwartz served on the school board in 2004 when this contract was executed and signed and should have known these important details. As current and former Zephyrs, it is in our best interest to honor contracts we made, not to risk health and safety of our children, and not to risk expensive litigation with Waste Management. Please share with other community members that have a vested interested in this school district