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Saturday, May 12, 2018

South Washington County's Red Rock Corridor "Terminated"!

Red Rock Corridor
It's official, according to the latest MN Department of Transportation report to the legislature the Red Rock Corridor planning has been terminated on their end. Stating on page 11 of the report under "Terminated and suspended" the line has "been removed from future studies and/or consideration" Going on to say on page 54 "...it was determined that while bus rapid transit was the preferred option, a dedicated right of way was not cost effective at this time."

Countless millions of local tax payer dollars have been spent studying this bus rapid transit (BRT) corridor from south washington county up to St. Paul. Yet despite this massive set back the County corridor planners are still continuing to plan this line as if they never got the news from
the State. They still hold meetings, have a contract with Kimley Horn to design it, and still talk in meetings on the next steps. Granted, the last time they met according to their webpage was four months ago in January. According to this last meeting there are only 3 meetings scheduled for all of 2018 (p.7).

Before MNDOT stuck a fork in the transit line and called it dead the corridor planners spent $550,000 dollars to rebrand it calling it the " implementation plan" ... that failed. So they spent thousands more for another rebrand and tried calling it a local bus route, that too appears to have failed. Because members of the Red Rock Corridor Commission are dropping like flies. Dakota County abandoned them, Hastings left too, and now Minneapolis is calling it quits trying to plan this terrible bus corridor or route or whatever they want to call it. 

The County must know deep down in their hearts the mass transit corridor planning here is terrible because they go through a new mass transit corridor planner every year for the Gold Line and the Red Rock Corridor. Transit planner Andy Gitzlaff's last meeting was in July of 2015.   Lyssa Leitner took over as the primary transit planner from there but was let go or quit in August of 2017 as it was the last meeting that listed her as the contact for questions on planning (ie: the assigned transit planner). Next to take over was Hally Turner but her last meeting as contact for planning was November of 2017. And now the fourth project manager in less than 3 years is  Emily Jorgensen according to the "contact us" link for the corridor.

The problem isn't lack of transit planning skill or even funding (thanks to the deep pockets of the Met Council). The problem is how bad these transit line ideas are for Washington County. For example, the bus route planning experts of Metro Transit refused to even study the idea of a bus route like the current plan is, let alone fund it. (use ctrl "f" to find route 363 in  Metro Transit's Service Improvement Plan.) The Gold Line is such a terrible idea that the Metro Transit says the best idea is to simply expanding the express bus service:  

Yet with all the facts on why this Red Rock Corridor would never work the blind supporters in elected office are still trying to keep it going.  
Representative Franke and Jurgens are looking to get $5.6 million for the line with their bill  HF2385. Even if the corridor funding request bill doesn't pass they still have the un-elected Met Council that will fund the corridor and keep it going no matter how bad it is. Last session the legislature gave the Met Council a jaw dropping $210.8 million dollars. Before the Met C took over funding transit corridors their budget was $100 million (2006). So they have over $100 million dollars to back door fund terrible corridors like the Red Rock and Gold Line. Last year Representative Runbeck led the house to pass a budget for the Met C of just $61.5 million, but the senate GOP thought otherwise and both chambers passed the $210.8 million for them. 

Until the Met Council's unheard of budget is limited or we can elect fiscally responsible County Commissioners, there is no end in sight for transit lines like the Red Rock Corridor and the Gold Line that is equally unimpressive. 

-Matt Behning