Monday, November 9, 2009

Draft Recommendations for Improving Transportation in Itasca County

Since this past July, The State and Local Policy Program, in conjunction with Humphrey institute Professor Yingling Fan and Center for Transportation Studies Assistant Director for Education and Outreach Gina Baas, have been working on study evaluating the cost and ease of implementing a variety of options for people to travel within and outside Itasca County, Minnesota.



The county presents a challenge to transportation planners, as it is the 3rd largest in the state by land area, but one of the smallest in terms of population. To gain an understanding of the key transportation needs, we held a series of focus groups, listening sessions, and one-on-one interviews, and developed a number of recommendations that fall into five functional categories:



Policy and Administrative changes
Communications, Education and Outreach changes
Opportunities for Coordination and Cooperation
Operations, Maintenance and/or Service Improvements
Cost Sharing or Saving Opportunities



Substantively, the recommendations range from bike routes and use of public transportation, to raising awareness of bus service linking Itasca County to Duluth and launching an online carpool service.



The study was funded by the Blandin Foundation, which is seeking comments on these draft recommendations. The draft recommendations and a comment form can be found on the Foundation's web site



We plan to finalize our study and recommendations in December, but welcome comments in the meantime.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Performance Driven: A New Vision for U.S. Transportation Policy

Martin Olav Sabo Lecture Series
Performance Driven: A New Vision for U.S. Transportation Policy



Monday, November 23, 2009
8:30a.m. - 1:30p.m.



Cowles Auditorium
Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs
University of Minnesota West Bank Campus
301 19th Ave. S., Minneapolis, MN



About the Event



The Bipartisan Policy Center's National Transportation Policy Project (NTPP) has begun a dialogue across the country regarding recommendations contained in its report Performance Driven: A New Vision for U.S. Transportation Policy. The next public forum will be held at the University of Minnesota Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs in conjunction with the Martin Olav Sabo Lecture Series. Former Congressman Sabo, NTPP co-chair, will speak at the event.



Join us to discuss the direction of federal surface transportation policy. This conversation comes at a critical time where there is extraordinary opportunity for revitalizing America's surface transportation system. This event will bring together state transportation officials, federal and state legislators, academics, the business community, and other key stakeholders in a conversation about the need for reform in the next federal surface transportation bill.
About the Bipartisan Policy Center



In 2007, former U.S. Senate Majority Leaders Howard Baker, Tom Daschle, Bob Dole, and George Mitchell formed the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) to develop and promote solutions that can attract the public support and political momentum to achieve real progress. The BPC acts as an incubator for policy efforts that engage top political figures, advocates, academics, and business leaders in the art of principled compromise.



Preliminary Agenda



* Welcome
J. Brian Atwood, Dean, Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs
Former U.S. Rep. Martin Olav Sabo, Co-chair, Bipartisan Policy Center's National Transportation Policy Project
* National Transportation Policy Project Report
Joshua Schank, Director of Transportation Research, Bipartisan Policy Center
* Opportunities and Challenges Implementing Recommendations for Reform
Moderator: Mike Erlandson, Vice President for Government Affairs, SUPERVALU
Peter Bell, Chair, Metropolitan Council
State Sen. D. Scott Dibble
State Rep. Mary Liz Holberg (invited)
Peter McLaughlin, Commissioner, Hennepin County
Tom Sorel, Commissioner, Minnesota Department of Transportation
* Development of Economic Benefit Metrics
Richard Mudge, Vice President, Delcan Corporation
* Local Business Community Perspective
Charlie Zelle, President, Jefferson Lines, and Co-chair, Itasca Project Transportation Task Force
* Where Do We Go from Here?
Emil Frankel, Director of Transportation Policy, Bipartisan Policy Center
* Luncheon Program
U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (invited)



Registration



This event is free and lunch will be provided. Registration is required as space is limited. Please RSVP by completing the online registration form.

More Information



Contact Gina Baas, 612-626-7331, baasx001@umn.edu.



About the Series



Since its inception in 2002, the Sabo Lecture Series has been a forum for distinguished individuals to address the challenges of public service for our state and nation. The series honors the public service career of former Congressman Martin Olav Sabo, who represented Minnesota for more than four decades at both the state and federal government levels.



Parking and transit



A circular drive in front of the Humphrey Center is available for drop off and unloading. The 19th Avenue Ramp is just across the street. The 21st Avenue Ramp is just south of the adjacent Carlson School of Management. For transit information, call Metro Transit at 612-373-3333 or visit www.metrotransit.org.



Sponsors



The Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs and the Center for Transportation Studies at the University of Minnesota are hosting this event in cooperation with the Bipartisan Policy Center's National Transportation Policy Project. Additional sponsorship provided by the McKnight Foundation and SUPERVALU, Inc.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Metro Mayors Meet on Regional Competitiveness

Slide Presentations from Regional Competitiveness Workshop:
Regional Competitiveness Project: Agenda and Selection of Clusters
Making Sense of Clusters: Keynote Address by Joseph Cortright

Minneapolis downtown.jpgOn October 21, Metro-area Mayors met at the Humphrey Institute to select industry clusters that will be the focus of an effort to improve the economic competitiveness of the Twin Cities. The Regional Competitiveness Project is a two-year project funded by the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) and conducted by the Humphrey Institute's State and Local Policy Program for the Regional Council of Mayors in partnership with Urban Land Institute (ULI) Minnesota.



The purpose of the project is to implement a regional economic and workforce development competitiveness strategy for short and long-term economic growth. This strategy will build a regional model, effectively connecting economic and workforce development efforts of business leaders, the Regional Council of Mayors, Workforce Investment Boards, the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, the Minnesota State College and University System, and the University of Minnesota



Joseph Cortright of Impresa in Portland, Oregon, gave the keynote address on "Making Sense of Clusters." Cortright summed up industry clusters in three words. "Clusters are about ideas, relationships, and place," according to Cortright. Cortright emphasized the importance of traded clusters that bring wealth into a region and draw upon specialized skills of a region's workforce.



The Humphrey Institute identified ten traded industry clusters in which the Twin Cities region is competitive nationally and internationally. The clusters were evaluated based on six criteria:

  • Strength of competitive advantage (existing or emerging)
  • Potential gain for industry cluster from private-public collaboration
  • Degree of geographic distribution in the region
  • Potential to spur innovation
  • Potential to spur entrepreneurship
  • International strength



The Mayors selected three clusters that will be the initial focus of the project--medical devices, financial services, and distribution services. In future phases of the project, the Mayors plan to work with other clusters as well.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Regional Competitiveness and Industry Clusters Capstone Course

PA 8081(7)
STATE AND LOCAL ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT WORKSHOP

An Economic Development Workshop for Humphrey Institute and Carlson School Graduate Students
Spring Semester 2010 • 3 Credits
Thursdays, 6:00 to 8:30 p. m.



Course Syllabus 2010



Instructors: Lee Munnich, Senior Fellow, Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs; Kris Nelson, Center for Urban and Regional Affairs (CURA); Burke Murphy, Metro Administrator, Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED)



This capstone workshop course is part of a Regional Competitiveness Project being conducted for the Twin Cities Regional Council of Mayors and the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED). Three teams of graduate students will prepare economic development strategy reports for the Regional Council of Mayors, and two teams will prepare strategy reports for regional clients in Greater Minnesota. Each strategy report will focus on a regional industry cluster and consist of three parts: 1) a diagnosis of a regional industry cluster, 2) a vision for the future, and 3) an action plan in accord with that vision.



While this workshop is designed as a capstone workshop to meet Humphrey Institute requirements, graduate students from the Carlson School of Management are strongly encouraged to participate in this workshop. The Regional Council of Mayors and DEED are particularly interested in drawing from the joint business, planning and public policy talents of the two graduate programs in developing a regional investment strategy for the Twin Cities and linking that strategy to Greater Minnesota.



The topic for the Spring 2010 capstone workshop course is Microeconomics of Competitiveness: Firms, Clusters, and Economic Development. This workshop is based on a case-study course developed by Professor Michael Porter and a team of his colleagues at the Harvard Business School. The course explores the determinants of national and regional competitiveness building from the perspective of firms, clusters, sub-national units, nations, and groups of neighboring countries. It focuses on the sources of national or regional productivity, which are rooted in the strategies and operating practices of locally based firms, the vitality of clusters, and the quality of the business environment in which competition takes place.



The course examines both advanced and developing economies and addresses competitiveness at multiple levels - nations, sub-national units such as states or provinces, particular cluster, and neighboring countries. The course is concerned not only with government policy, but also with the roles that firms, industry, associations, universities, and other institutions play in competitiveness. In modern competition, each of these institutions has an important and evolving role in economic development. Moreover, the process of creating and sustaining an economic strategy for a nation, state or region is a daunting challenge. The course explores not only theory and policy but also the organizational structures, institutional structures, and change processes required for sustained improvements in competitiveness.



The course is taught using case studies drawn from all major regions of the world. Part of the purpose of the course is to expose students to some of the most successful countries and regions. In addition to cases, there are readings, a series of video lectures by Michael Porter, and videotaped appearances by guests who are national, regional, or business leaders involved in the cases studied.



For further information contact: Lee Munnich, lmunnich@umn.edu or (612) 625-7357

Friday, October 9, 2009

Public Acceptance of Toll Lane Options Presentations

For those interested in the presentations from the Rethinking Transportation Financing Roundtable on Public Acceptance of Toll Lane Options, here they are



Express Lane Networks: Effectiveness and Acceptance - Patrick DeCorla Souza, Tolling and Pricing Program Manager, Federal Highway Administration
Public Acceptance of FEE Lanes: Study Methodology - Adeel Lari, Director of Innovative Transportation Finance, Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota
Public Perceptions of FEE Lanes: Focus Group Impressions - Kenneth Buckeye, Program Manager, Minnesota Department of Transportation

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Public Acceptance of Toll Lane Options

Rethinking Transportation Finance Roundtable
Public Acceptance of Toll Lane Options

October 9, 2009
9:00 a.m.--11:00 a.m.
Wilkins Room
215 Humphrey Center
University of Minnesota
301-19th Avenue South
Minneapolis, Minnesota
Cost: There is no charge for this event, but registration is requested.
Registration: To register, contact Laura Noble at 612-626-0564 or lnoble@umn.edu



In an era of increasing congestion and limited state budgets, there is a need to develop cost-effective solutions to accommodate increasing travel demand. How can policy makers and Departments of Transportation around the nation help to provide options for motorists? How can DOTs use existing infrastructure as efficiently as possible to meet current and future transportation needs? Two concepts, FAST Miles and FEE lanes, offer a potential solution for more efficiently using infrastructure.

The FAST Miles concept proposes to ease highway congestion on a system of limited access facilities by pricing the road to promote the use of car pools and public transportation. Under the concept, each motorist is provided a number of dollar credits per month. The motorist, at his or her discretion, can apply those credits to use the priced lanes. The FAST Miles concept addresses equity concerns such as lack of alternatives to paying the toll, concern for low-income drivers, as well as taking away lanes that were previously free.



Flexible and Efficient Express (FEE) lanes can serve as the back bone of the FAST Miles System. FEE lanes are a combination of active traffic management and congestion pricing and may be combined with a credit based system.



Focus groups were conducted in May 2009 to test how understandable the FAST Miles concept is to the public as well as public opinion on converting existing freeway right-of-way to priced lanes - FEE lanes. These concepts were tested with transportation users and stakeholders such as transit users, peak period drivers, and commercial drivers. From the focus groups, potential barriers to comprehension and implementation of the FAST Miles program were highlighted.



The Minnesota Department of Transportation (Mn/DOT) and the Metropolitan Council have explored the possibility of implementing a system of MnPASS lanes (HOT Lanes) in the Twin Cities Metropolitan Area for over a decade. The results of this study will be used to help develop an implementation initiative with improved potential for success.



Agenda
8:30 a.m. Continental breakfast
9:00 a.m. Welcome
Laurie McGinnis, Acting Director, Center for Transportation Studies, University of Minnesota
9:05 a.m. Presentations
Moderator: Lee Munnich, Senior Fellow and Director, State and Local Policy Program, Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota
Express Lane Networks: Patrick DeCorla Souza, Tolling and Pricing Program Manager, Federal Highway Administration
Study Methodology: Adeel Lari, Director of Innovative Transportation Finance, Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota
Study Results: Kenneth Buckeye, Program Manager, Minnesota Department of Transportation
10:10 a.m. Audience discussion
* What is your reaction to the concepts of FAST Miles and FEE Lanes?
* What are the potential impacts for transit if express lane networks are expanded in the Twin Cities area?
* What further steps should be taken in Minnesota?
11:00 a.m. Adjourn



Directions, transit, & parking
View directions to the Humphrey Institute. Parking is available in the 19th Avenue Ramp across from the Humphrey Center. For transit information call Metro Transit at 612-373-3333 or visit www.metrotransit.org.



Sponsors
This event is sponsored by the University of Minnesota's Center for Transportation Studies and the Humphrey Institute's State and Local Policy Program with the Minnesota Department of Transportation.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

New 35W commuter lanes flowing smoothly | StarTribune.com

MnPASS grows to a new part of the Twin Cities, and appears to be going well. Next, extending it all the way to downtown Minneapolis, as part of a system of dynamic, "managed" lanes, including shoulders! More to come in this space, but for now, a description of this morning's opening commute can be found here.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

eWorkPlace Blog - Telecommuting Town

The Twin Cities have always seemed like a good place for telecommuting: for starters, who wouldn't want to work from home in January when the actual temperature is minus 20 Fahrenheit?



So, it is no surprise that one of the largest scale efforts to attract new telecommuters is underway here, in the form of eWorkPlace



However, planners should really get excited about this post that
the eWorkplace folks found on Planetizen, which explores the idea of what might happen if telework REALLY took off.



Any reactions?

Friday, July 10, 2009

A New Way to Fund Transportation

University of Minnesota Professor Max Donath and his colleagues at the Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) Institute have developed a promising new approach for charging fees for road use based on vehicle-miles traveled (VMT). Three national commissions with bipartisan membership have recommended that the U.S. move to a mileage-based system for funding transportation in the future to replace the gas tax. There is an increasing view among policy leaders that the U.S. would be better off with this type of funding system in the long-run, but not much agreement about how to get there given the technological and political obstacles.



OBD-II Data Link Connector.jpg



GPS technology has been used successfully with trucks in Germany to assess distance-based charges to pay for transportation infrastructure, but extending this approach to all vehicles could be quite costly and would be difficult to implement broadly in the near term.



Donath proposes a system which could be implemented in the near-term using widely available technology. The approach takes advantage of the OBD-II data link connector, which is in every passenger car built in the U.S. since 1996, and omnipresent cellular phone tower infrastructure.



The full report is available on the web: Technology Enabling Near-Term Nationwide Implementation of Distance Based Road User Fees. There is an excellent summary of the system by Peter Samuel in Toll Roads News.



OBD-II System.jpg

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

University of Minnesota experts reveal top 100 rural traffic safety "Hot Zones"

top100ruralzones.jpg
Online map identifies rural areas with most driving fatalities in time for July 4th travel ~ SafeRoadMaps Version 2 is launched.



MINNEAPOLIS / ST. PAUL (06/30/2009) -- Rural transportation safety experts at the University of Minnesota today launched a new national service to help drivers identify the most dangerous portions of upcoming trips, including trips that will be made this Independence Day, which is often the most dangerous travel day of the year.



SafeRoadMaps.org is a service that immediately identifies the location of crashes through an online, searchable map. The service was launched last summer by the University of Minnesota's Center for Excellence in Rural Safety (CERS), but starting today it will flag the nation's Top 100 "Hot Zones," the rural areas that have experienced the most fatalities over the past five years. The hot zones are presented in a visually arresting Google Map-based format, where viewers can zoom from a national map showing all 100 zones, down to a photo of each individual section of the road.



The newest version of SafeRoadMaps.org offers several other enhancements over the original version released in 2008. SafeRoadMaps now allows anyone visiting www.saferoadmaps.org to enter a zip code, municipality name or street address and immediately see a map or satellite image all of the road fatalities that have occurred in the chosen area over the past five years. Details about each crash are also available, such as whether the driver was wearing a seatbelt, drinking or speeding. The tool also notes which life-saving public policies, such as strong seat belt laws, are being employed in the chosen area.

CERS
was created in 2005 through the leadership of Minnesota Congressman Jim Oberstar, chairman of the U.S. House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. Oberstar has encouraged CERS to make rural safety more visual, localized and personal to the nation's drivers and leaders.

While U.S. Census figures show that about one out of five (21 percent) Americans live in rural areas, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has found that about six out of 10 (57 percent) highway deaths occur on roads that it considers rural.



"Whether you're a driver, policymaker or a road engineer, this is an eye opener," said Oberstar. "Crash data used to be stored in huge dusty stacks of paper in Washington, D.C. We've made sure the information is instantly available on millions of screens, and it is available in a dramatically visual and customized format. This is as important to better highway safety as the interstate map was to achieving national mobility."



The Safety Advisory Zones include 100 from rural areas. While 29 states have rural areas in the Top 100, the ten states with the most "hot zones" are Arizona, Arkansas, California, Florida, Indiana, Louisiana, Maryland, North Carolina, Texas and Virginia (in alphabetical order). A searchable map showing all of the hot zones is available at www.saferoadmaps.org.



"Drivers often think of rural safety as an issue only for the least populous states," said Tom Horan, CERS Research Director. "But this analysis shows that drivers need to be extra alert in rural regions of the more populous states as well."



The SafeRoadMaps.org tool is being used in a variety of ways to educate the public about road fatalities. For instance, driver's education leaders have advocated use of the tool as a means to teach new drivers the importance of following the rules of the road. Drivers are exploring their most common routes and being educated about the need to take sensible precautions. Finally, road safety officials are using the tool to better pinpoint where policy, structural and traffic management adjustments are most needed.



"SafeRoadMaps is not about casting blame," said Lee Munnich, CERS Director. "This is about making sure drivers are informed and safe, and policymakers have a user friendly tool to guide their safety related decisions."



In addition to rural hot zones, SafeRoadMaps now also identifies urban hot zones. Eighteen states have urban areas in the Top 100. The 10 states with the most "hot zones" are Arizona, California, Florida, Hawaii, Maryland, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Texas. These urban zones are also viewable on www.saferoadmaps.org.



The Center for Excellence in Rural Safety provides citizen-centered research, training, and outreach to enhance rural safety and to meet the needs of rural transportation practitioners and policymakers. It operates as a joint venture of the University of Minnesota's Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs and Center for Transportation Studies.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

I-35W Congestion Reduction Project Shows Minnesotans Up to Stimulus Challenge

“Nothing focuses the mind like a deadline.” The architects of the Obama Administration stimulus funding package have a lot riding on that old adage.



The Administration, desperate to create jobs as soon as possible, is distributing billions of dollars in a hurry. It needs to quickly and efficiently jump-start projects to create jobs in the short run, and improve the fundamentals of the economy over the long-run.



So, the Obama Administration is holding a series of competitions to gather the best ideas for investing the stimulus funding. For instance, a number of regions are entering a competition for high-speed rail projects. A number of business coalitions are assembling their best ideas for building a “smart grid” system that will carry solar, wind and other alternative forms of energy to population centers.



The federal stimulus initiative and the earlier USDOT congestion reduction competition have many similarities. Both brought competitive pressure to bear to stimulate big thinking. Both set very ambitious goals. Both focused on problems limiting long-term economic growth. Both demanded that proposals be planned, assembled, reviewed and awarded in weeks or months rather than years. Both required that huge, complex projects be constructed in strict timetables.



I can’t blame taxpayers for wondering whether policymakers working at a breakneck speed will get it right. But based on what I have seen, I believe these truncated ideation competitions not only can work, they might actually be preferable to business-as-usual.



Witness Minnesota’s experience two year’s ago when the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) offered a one-time $1.1 billion pool of funding to urban areas that brought forth the most inventive and productive ideas for reducing the intractable problem of urban traffic congestion.

To be sure, the congestion reduction project competition was not policymaking-as-usual. After all, transportation projects often take a decade or more to be prioritized, assembled, reviewed, vetted, awarded, re-vetted and built. Innovation, boldness and speed are not always the hallmarks of this interminable process. And getting various interests united and integrated has never been a quick or certain endeavor.



But the time-limited USDOT competition shook things up. In Minnesota, the demanding rules of the competitive process stimulated unprecedented collaboration, speed, efficiency and innovation.



On the collaboration and speed front, stakeholder workshops were immediately convened, bringing together bipartisan politicians, planners, businesses, highway advocates, transit champions, trucking representatives and environmental leaders. Facing pressing deadlines, the groups quickly identified common ground, and united behind Minnesota’s entry into the USDOT competition, a bold proposal for reducing congestion on I-35W between Burnsville and downtown Minneapolis.



On the efficiency front, the planning and design work for the I-35W proposal was completed in record time. The authorizing legislation passed the Legislature with bipartisan support within the tight federal deadlines. And it currently looks like the ultra-fast tracked I-35W project will be completed on time and on budget.



On the innovation front, Minnesota’s proposal wowed national reviewers. For instance, the proposal contains the most comprehensive and thoughtful telecommuting initiative our region has ever undertaken. It also features a bold new approach to more efficiently move buses in and out of downtown Minneapolis, a traditionally troublesome transit bottleneck.



Finally, Minnesota’s entry into the national competition contained a first-of-its-kind initiative to allow solo drivers to use fortified highway shoulders, if they pay a fee. The use of electronically collected “congestion fees” that vary according to congestion levels assures that transit users, carpoolers, and a limited number of toll payers will be able to travel at average speeds of 50 mph or more on the express lane, even during rush hour.



The new I-35W pricing system will be similar to the approach used on the I-394 MnPASS lanes, which has increased traffic throughput by hundreds of cars per day. Surveys have found that a large majority of I-394 travelers of all income levels think these MnPASS lanes are a good idea.



All told, the Minnesota proposal delivered more and better commuting options, and allowed us to get more bang from our transportation buck. USDOT reviewers were impressed. Of the 26 competitive entries from around the nation, the Twin Cities was one of only five metro areas to win federal funding.



The USDOT competition proved to me that Minnesota leaders can act quickly, when required. We can be competitive, collaborative, bold and comprehensive, when necessary. We can smooth over past differences to build bipartisan, multi-sector and multi-agency partnerships, when deadlines and competitive pressures don’t allow us the luxury of posturing and drama.



In short, the USDOT congestion reduction competition was living proof that nothing focuses the mind like a deadline. Here’s hoping Minnesota and national leaders remember these lessons as they compete in the coming months for the right to rebuild our economy.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

A nice summary of Congestion Pricing

Humphrey faculty member Jerry Zhao recently posted a "guest post" on his blog regarding congestion pricing. Since it does a nice job of pointing out some of the key developments and accomplishments of pricing in the past 10 years, I re-post it here.



Obviously, there is much more to each of these stories, and we welcome additional comments! But for those just looking to "get smart" about this alternative pricing mechanism, one could do worse than this piece!

Monday, March 16, 2009

High Speed Rail - could it really happen?

Planetizen has a thought-provoking piece on one of the most intriguing parts of the Stimulus package: High Speed Rail-In-America



While that author sounds ready to buy his ticket, and I agree the vision sounds attractive, he also points out some major hurdles that remain. Namely:



(1) $8 billion is barely a down payment on a system that truly will rival what exists in Europe. Could anything that expensive really ever become reality? Could anything less (e.g. 110 mph trains running on existing corridors - or even existing tracks?) attract enough riders to ease our overdependence on the current highway and airport system?



(2) This country has not only not invested in rail as a passenger mode, but has fundamentally re-shaped its urban development patterns to such an extent that there is little or no existing rail infrastructure, except possibly for the Northeast US, that could support a national High Speed Rail system.



To make this $8 billion pay off, it seems a tough decision has to be made. Does the country invest in one or two specific state-of-the-art lines that may lead to a "build-it-and-they-will-come" sensation that seemed to occur with recent LRT openings, or does it spread the money to simply speed up the current Amtrak system? If it is the former, what is the justification for using National Stimulus money to benefit one or two regions? If it is the latter, would anyone notice?



President Obama promised an administration that would not be afraid to make "the tough decisions." Transportation planners should all find the way this plays out to be quite fascinating!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Some advice for job-seekers

A number of folks have been talking with me lately about job searching. Thought I would add this post from Planetizen to the discussion . . .



Finding a First Job in Planning | Planetizen

Friday, March 6, 2009

Biking and Pedestrian Events coming up week of March 9

I thought readers of this blog might be interested in a couple events that will occur in the coming week (March 9 - 13)



First, right away on Monday morning, BikeWalk Twin Cities will host



Designing Streets from the Outside In:
Complete Streets and Beyond



Monday, March 9th: The “Dream Team” to Visit the Twin Cities



You have expressed enthusiasm for additional consultation with bikeway and pedestrian safety design experts regarding implementation NTP projects. Well, after learning of your preferences and the challenges that confront us, we’ve selected a team that is mighty indeed! "The Dream Team" includes:



Dan Burden
Michael Moule, P.E., P.T.O.E.
Antonio Rosell, P.E.
Michael Ronkin, P.E.
Michael Wallwork, P.E.



Currie Conference Center (CCC)
1200 Currie Ave N
1st Floor-Room 135 & 136
Minneapolis, Minnesota 55403



Contact Jaméz Smith: 651.767.0298 x112 jamezs@tlcminnesota.org



The agenda is "below the fold"




Then, on Wednesday, March 11, 2009, 12:45 - 2:00 pm, Anna Flintoft, a Transportation Planner with the City of Minneapolis, Department of Public Works, will give a talk, "Developing the Minneapolis Pedestrian Master Plan," as part of this year's Regional Planning & Policy Brownbag Discussion Series.
http://www.ci.minneapolis.mn.us/pedestrian/pedestrian-masterplan.asp



The lecture will be in Room 184 Humphrey Center and refreshments will be served. All are welcome to attend. Questions about this event may be directed to me, Frank Douma (612-626-9946 / douma002@umn.edu ), or Laura Noble (Exec admin specialist -- 612-626-0564 / lnoble@umn.edu ).



Hope these events will be interesting to you!




March 9 Workshop



8:30 Welcome/Introductions: Joan Pasiuk
8:40 Bike and Pedestrian Design 101 -- Michael Moule, PE
9:10 How to Make a Healthy Street? Try a Road Diet – Dan Burden
9:40 Low-Cost Improvements, Minnesota Style -- Antonio Rosell, PE
10:10 Break
10:20 The Art of Traffic Engineering: The transportation pie a la mode-- Michael Wallwork, PE
10:50 Designing Streets from the Outside In – Michael Ronkin
11:20 Small Group Exercise: Doing More with Less – Rosell, Hull and Clark
(teams of 4-5 will develop ‘complete streets’ design solutions for specific types of challenges – consultants will play advisory role)
12:30 Lunch



Site Tour



1:30 Bus tour of NTP project sites



4:30 Return



Note: The bus tour is limited to project managers, consultants and policy makers involved in the Non-Motorized Transportation Pilot Program. If bus is not full by Friday, March 6th, other stakeholders will be welcome to participate. Up to four challenging sites will be visited, with design guidance by our national experts in a collaborative, interactive consensus building exercise.

Cheating in HOV, MnPASS Lanes

HOVMnPASSLanes.jpg
I'm interviewed in this WCCO-TV report "How Easy Is It To Cheat In HOV, MnPASS Lanes?" The report by Frank Vascellaro does a nice job of explaining the enforcement technology used on the I-394 MnPASS lanes. It makes the case for why enforcement and giving people the choice of paying to travel alone on I-394 is better than little enforcement and no MnPASS option on the I-35W HOV lane.



The violation rate on the I-394 high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lane dropped from 20% to 9% when MnPASS was introduced in May 2005. During the same period, the violation rate on the I-35W HOV lane increased from 23% to 33%. The I-35W HOV lane will be converted to a MnPASS lane this fall and will be extended to downtown Minneapolis when major reconstruction of the Crosstown Commons portion of I-35W is completed next year.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

The cure for congestion is not good news

The good news: congestion is down in the Twin Cities.



The bad news: it's due to the economy. Read more about it here:
Lost jobs add up to speedier commute



More good news: One day, the economy will rebound



More Bad news: without any other adjustment, the congestion problem will return. This is simply supply and demand going on here. If the supply of transportation facilities remains constant, when jobs return, the demand for space on the freeways, buses and trains will return too.



Further analysis below the fold:

It's been common knowledge among the transportation folks I run with that one of the best ways to solve traffic congestion in an urban area is to kill the economy, and the current recession is proving it.



Now, while I am not an expert in job creation and/or economic development, I know enough history to know that sooner or later, the economy will turn around, and, consequently, so will travel demand. Further, without any change in the current system, and the incentives it provides, the demand will return largely in the form of single occupant vehicle trips.



However, a number of changes are going on to that system, which could lead to a much different travel picture when the economy comes back. Here are some of my favorites:



(1) The Urban Partnership Agreement Anyone who last drove I-35W in 2005 will barely recognize it in 2011, with new dedicated bus lanes, the Cedar Avenue BRT line, and priced dynamic shoulder lanes. Further, some folks who find jobs that require a commute in the corridor, won't commute! They'll be home or another favorite alternative workplace, telecommuting, further reducing peak period traffic demand.



(2) New Transit alternatives: Northstar Commuter Rail and Central Corridor LRT. The former will be running by the end of 2009, and the latter scheduled to start operations roughly 5 years later (assuming funding and construction stay on schedule).



and



(3) Stimulus for State Transport Projects. Remember the old joke about your state being the land of two seasons, "winter and road construction?" That of course resulted from the traffic delays brought about by closing lanes to do highway improvements. Well, what better time to make those improvements than when congestion is down?

Monday, February 23, 2009

Slides from Professor Allen's presentation

For those who were not able to attend Professor Allen's presentation on "The Unraveling of the American Dream: Foreclosures in the Immigrant Community of Minneapolis," or who would like to review his slides, CURA has posted his presentation at the following link:



Foreclosures_and_Immigrants.pdf (application/pdf Object)

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Big Help or Big Brother?

The Science and Technology Area here at the Humphrey Institute recently hosted a terrific forum on privacy and the Internet. Our work here at the State and Local Policy Program on Privacy and transportation technologies will be published in the next several months. And now this from Yahoo! Tech



It's getting increasingly important for all of us to understand what information we are really releasing . . .

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