Monday, February 25, 2008

I don’t have much time to post today, but wanted to get a few things off my chest. Consider this a grab bag of rants, raves and interesting tidbits.

• Minnesotan’s will soon be socked with even higher taxes. The House just voted to override Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s veto of a $6.6 billion transportation bill that will raise the gas tax. The funding will go toward improving Minnesota’s transportation infrastructure, including roads, bridges and mass transit routes. If this funding would’ve went strictly toward improving our roads, I would’ve been all for it. However, I have a sneaking suspicion that a good chunk of this money will finance more light rail boondoggles. The light rail does absolutely nothing to unclog our overused and archaic roads in the metro area. I’m not one of these people that automatically is against each and every tax increase. However, this particular increase should’ve focused entirely on roads, and also should’ve included concrete plans on how the state is going to curb spending as well as raise taxes.

• Vikings tackle Bryant McKinnie allegedly beat up a bouncer and was involved in a large brawl outside a Miami nightclub. He’s accused of beating the bouncer with a pole. McKinnie is 6-foot-8 and close to 340 pounds. I wonder why he felt the need to use a pole? If I was 6-8, 340, I’d just beat people up with my bare hands. Using a pole isn’t fair. If the bouncer was so tough that McKinnie needed to use the pole, then the Vikes should invite the bouncer to training camp.

Why are the Democrats even considering nominating Hillary Clinton?

• Amanda Jax recently drank herself to death in a Mankato bar and now the bar is going to be punished for it. If the bar broke the law, it should be punished. However, let’s not forget about personal responsibility here. Punishing bars for patrons that drink themselves to death will not do anything to curb excessive binge drinking. It’s easy to get caught up in the blame game and lawsuits whenever something like this happens. It’s easier to forget who is ultimately responsible in these tragedies: The person that drank him/herself to death.

• The Academy made an excellent choice for Best Picture. No Country for Old Men is a movie that you keep talking about months after seeing it. It’s also disturbingly realistic in a sort of dark way.

8 comments:

Jason said...

"The light rail does absolutely nothing to unclog our overused and archaic roads in the metro area."

In it's current form, you are absolutely correct.

I was recently having this discussion with, of all people, my mother...and we decided that the only thing, good or bad, that Jesse Ventura did for this state was somehow convince us that we should have light rail. Now I'd have been all for it if it were anywhere near a comprehensive plan, but downtown to the mall was just ludicrous.

Having been to NYC & Boston however....I would put forth that as a piece of infrastructure; light rail, subway, or anything of the sort is incredibly invaluable if done correctly. Our two invariably separated, but inevitably linked cities need a better link besides 94. I love living in St. Paul, but I hate having to go to Minneapolis. I loved living downtown Minne., but I hated the cost and parking hassle. Creating a link between them via light rail would be unimaginably wonderful for a fairly destitute and skinny gentleman like myself that loves being able to go out now and again without having to worry about stopping at 2 or 3 beers.

So throw a rail down from 5th all the way down Hennepin. Throw another from 5th to Washington down to 35 and then up across the new bridge up to Uni, and down to downtown St. Paul. That, compared to other rail cities, is very little. My opinion, you either go just enough or all out....mall to downtown isn't nearly enough.


Now as much as I would love to see the roads in better shape, we've actually got it fairly good...maybe not pothole-wise, but I've seen other cities, and our traffic really isn't that bad. At least not consistently. And trust me on this one; if you give people more than just one place on the south end of town where they can drop off their cars, take a train to work, and save $40/month.....they'll do it. Even better, A fair amount of the $$$ that goes to the light rail goes back into the roads of the state. It's win/win.

Minnesotans love driving, but they love saving money and drinking more.

Nice blog by the way.

Jason

AC said...

Jason,

I don't have much experience w/ traffic in other cities, but you're one of the few people I've talked to that actually thinks our traffic isn't that bad. Most people say our traffic problems are far worse than they should be given our population. Then again, I'm no expert.

I also agree w/ your take on either going all out w/ the light rail or not going at all. I live in downtown St. Paul, and it makes no sense for me to drive to the Mall or Ft. Snelling just so I can save a few bucks on parking by taking the light rail. It seems like the light rail has turned into just another something else for the Democrats and Republicans to fight over instead of something that could truly be used to better the area.

Simon said...

"The light rail does absolutely nothing to unclog our overused and archaic roads in the metro area."

So you are suggsting that the approximately 28,000 people riding LRT today would do what to get to work/the mall/the airport? Walk? Because taking even 15,000 cars off Hiawatha and 35W certainlty does reduce traffic.

Also, an increase in the gas tax should by itself help reduce traffic by reducing demand.

Furthermore, LRT was more than 1/2 funded with federal dollars, so while perhaps some of the new gas tax will go to improving LRT, they will likely also bring in more federal transportation dollars.

Texas said...

The two previous commenters hit on it more eloquently. Light rail when done properly works wonders. Linking the twin cities together and then moving to linking St. Cloud to the cities via the North Star Rail line would do wonders for the traffic problems.

As a person who just recently got rid of my car I have only experienced minimal problems getting around in the city. My biggest beef with the bus system is the fact that they don't run late enough, but that is another rant

AC said...

Minnesota's LRT system, as it is set up today, is barely better than our bus system. Barely. It's definitely not worth the massive investment. Sure, maybe 15,000 more people are off the road, but how many of those people had to drive to the LRT station to board? Could these people get the same level of service on a bus line? If LRT has any impact on traffic, it's minimal.

I agree that LRT is great when done properly. But it's unrealistic to expect the Minnesota legislature to do anything properly. I also consider LRT a luxury. Is it appropriate to raise taxes and spend money on luxuries when we're supposedly in a recession, whether the investment comes from the state or the feds?

Jason said...

"Minnesota's LRT system, as it is set up today, is barely better than our bus system. Barely. It's definitely not worth the massive investment. Sure, maybe 15,000 more people are off the road, but how many of those people had to drive to the LRT station to board? Could these people get the same level of service on a bus line? If LRT has any impact on traffic, it's minimal."

First it's "barely better than the bus system", then you ask suggestively if people could get better service from the bus line.

Well, here's your answer. I think we all realize that in it's current state, as far as area of service, the bus line is going to win the day. But in the areas of comfort, speed, and long-term investment to payoff (the subways in NYC have been running for over a hundred years); the LRT will win that one. However, you have to be willing to put that investment in. And it's ridiculous to sit back after the first track is built and say "wow, that was too much work...and too much money, and we're not getting much out of it". The only reason we're not getting more out of it is that the people who signed the bill in the first place changed their minds.

If you think connecting the whole of the Cities via train would take a mere 15,000 cars off the road, you aren't thinking clearly...no offense intended. But if that's what LRT does to the 55 corridor, you can expect the same from University, Hennepin, etc...individually.

Not to bring-up a tough subject, but with the near 1 trillion that's already gone into the war not to mention the rising cost of gas...money's gonna have to come out of peoples' pockets sooner or later. People already are looking and will continue to look for ways to lower their gas bill and other bills for that matter.

Jason

AC said...

The Twin Cities and NYC shouldn't be compared when talking mass transit. Apples to oranges. However, I see your points. I would argue that we should first improve our roads and traditional transportation infrastructure before we start building transportation luxuries like LRT. It's not needed in the Twin Cities right now. Is it nice? Sure. Will it be nice once it connects Minneapolis/St. Paul/St. Cloud? Oh yeah. But I think the vast majority of people want to see our roads fixed first. I know it's too late for that now (Jesse Ventura needed to leave his stamp on something), but the legislature needs to re-think its priorities, and LRT should be something that we could come back to later.

On a related note, this massive tax increase may very well mean a clean sweep in the Minnesota House come November. A lot of my liberal friends and co-workers are pissed that the Dems just keep feeding that tax and spend stereotype while at the same time talking about how bad our economy is. November is a long ways away, but I'm not hearing much of anything positive about this bill. Are you all hearing the same things?

On an unrelated note, I need to lighten up the blog a little. Look for a breakdown of the Twins' infield in the coming days.

Simon said...

How is LRT a "luxury" but roads are not? Only because the road system was built first. Indeed they can and should be complimentary systems that improve each other. LRT reduces traffic, thereby reducing maintainance costs of the roads. Roads are needed to get people to and from LRT stations (particularly suburban ones).

And while you may think LRT is not needed today, given the time it takes to build such a system (a real, robust one, not the single line that exists today), by the time it would be needed it would be too late. Investment in infrastructure is definitionally forward thinking and indeed is a much better form of economic stimulus than giving everybody $600 to buy an HDTV from China.