1/10/12 Minneapolis Transportation & Public Works Committee

The committee deep in consideration

The Transportation & Public Works Committee of the Minneapolis City Council is a mouthful of a committee, both in its name and in the depth of the issues it covers.  This series aims to both condense the items for quicker understanding and provide context where necessary… and I won’t be able to stop myself from adding my two cents here and there.  Here’s what the committee is up to this week:

  1. Commercial Asphalt – Contract Amendment:  The City paid $3.8m for asphalt for 2011 construction and maintenance projects.  That’s about 10% of the 2011 budget for Transportation Maintenance and Repair, which totals $39m.  I’m not sure if capital improvements are included in that budget, and I’m surprised about what a small portion of the budget this is.  Maybe they have more than one asphalt supplier?
  2. High Speed Rail from Milwaukee to Minneapolis:  Mike Hicks has a good overview of the recently-completed alternatives selection study of passenger rail upgrades between Milwaukee and Minneapolis.  The City supports the selected alternative, which follows the current Empire Builder route between the two M-towns, apparently mostly because of the synergies that route would have with Red Rock commuter rail.  It seems to me that a connection to Rochester would benefit Minneapolis at least as much as a connection to Hastings, but I guess I don’t have 1000 pages of documents to back that up.
  3. 2012 Extension of Downtown TMO Grant Amendments:  In 1991 the City created the Downtown Minneapolis Transportation Management Organization, which “can help you find your way getting to Downtown Minneapolis by bus, train, carpool, vanpool and bike.”  The City uses federal money to fund the TMO, which can be an effective way to promote alternatives to commuting in a single-occupancy vehicle.  Bus shelters might do the same, just saying.
  4. Linden Hills Street Resurfacing Project:  A whole bunch of streets in Linden Hills are about to get $2.9m smoother.  Check page 4 of this pdf to see if your block is on the list, and start saving for the assessment.  Streets in Linden Hills haven’t been as smooth as they’re about to get since 1968.
  5. Van White Memorial Bridge and Roadway:  Planned since at least the late 90s, it looks like some pieces of Van White Blvd between Glenwood and Dunwoody will finally be built.  Apparently the City designed twice as much bridge as it could afford, so a segment of the boulevard that was designed as two two-lane viaducts over the BNSF tracks will be built as only one two-lane viaduct.  That means half the sidewalk, in addition to a sharp detour in the Cedar Lake Trail (there will be a connection from Van White to the Trail).  While the connection to the Northside is both welcome and overdue, hopefully this road is the last gasp of auto-centric transportation planning in Minneapolis.  (see my blog entry from last March for more whining of this sort)
  6. Bids:  Apparently one of the elevators in Ramp “C” is being modernized at the cost of $991,469, which is too bad because those antique elevators with the brass gates are really fun.  Also the City is buying two traffic signal cabinets to satisfy “the unique geometrics created by the addition of the Central Corridor LRT project at the intersection of Washington Ave SE, Huron Blvd, and University Ave SE [which] is such an unusual design that it is unlikely to be used anywhere else in the State of Minnesota.” Price?  $76,450.
  7. Civil Fine for Unshoveled Sidewalks:  The city is putting off its fine for unshoveled sidewalks until Spring of 2012, but will “continue to use currently authorized $105 Hennepin County citation for chronic offenders.”  On the bright side, we will continue to be able to use the litmus test of which City officials never actually walk based on who claims the current system is working well.
  8. RFP for Composting of Yard Wastes and Street Sweeping Materials:  After some complaints that the current yard waste contractor stinks, the city is considering looking for someone else.  Also, the state will require yard waste to be put in compostable bags starting in 2013.
  9. Solid Waste and Recycling Collection:  A proposal by Paul Ostrow to consider “the expansion of organized collection to include residential properties with more than four (4) units, commercial properties, and properties in the downtown core” has been postponed since 2006.  Look for it here next week, too.

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6 Responses to 1/10/12 Minneapolis Transportation & Public Works Committee

  1. Bill Lindeke
    Bill Lindeke January 13, 2012 at 8:58 am #

    that picture looks familiar. is that councilmember Reich?

  2. Matt January 13, 2012 at 9:03 am #

    Old elevators in the C ramp? It couldn't be older than 20 years right? Also it just amazes me how that 394 trench, for being such a modern freeway, really creates a big divide in the area. There are some small projects that could go a long way towards improving the streetscape between 2nd Ave N and the BNSF trench.

  3. Froggie January 16, 2012 at 12:08 am #

    Matt…the 394 ramps would be a little over 20 years old at this point.

  4. Ian Bicking January 23, 2012 at 9:23 am #

    Out of curiosity, which councilpeople don't walk?

  5. Alex Bauman
    Alex January 26, 2012 at 6:01 am #

    I was thinking of a story in one of the big two papers last year that compared snow removal policies in various metro municipalities, in which a higher-up at Public Works – I'm guessing Mike Kennedy but I don't remember for sure – said that Mpls' system was working fine. I can't find the story now of course.

    I'm sure all the councilmembers would say that they walk on occasion, and I'm sure most of them at the very least will walk to their neighborhood bistro if it's a nice day in June. But I believe that only one doesn't use a car as a primary transportation mode, and he somehow still got a DWI a few years ago. It's a good question, though, come 2013.

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