Generic picture of a high speed train with mountains in the background

Minnezona – Or a Solution to Our Climate Crisis

March 32, 2014

In a joint press conference, Governors Mark Dayton of Minnesota (Pop: 5.4 million )  and Jan Brewer of Arizona (Pop: 6.5 million) announced a plan for a merger of their respective states to  lower costs, gain market share, and take advantage of  synergies. They announced they would be co-Governors, and meet jointly, via Google Hangouts, on a daily basis, with Dayton maintaining offices in St. Paul and Brewer in Phoenix.  This would soon create the 5th largest state (overtaking Illinois by 2020).

Generic picture of a high speed train with mountains in the background

Generic picture of a high speed train with mountains in the background

The main advantage of such a merger, both Governors, reading simultaneously from the same teleprompter said, was  “a reduction in  energy costs.”

Every year, Minnesotans spend a fortune heating themselves in the winter, while Arizonans spend a second fortune cooling themselves in the summer. A few people, so-called “snow birds”, follow the lessons of our avian forbears and migrate from Minnesota to Arizona and back seasonally. But of course, when in Arizona, they miss all the social connections, work exchanges, and so on that are present in Minnesota. And when they return, they miss everybody left behind in Arizona.

Instead of a few lucky retired people being snow birds, the merger of Minnesota and Arizona into a single state would create the opportunity to mass migrate the entire states seasonally.

Brewer announced they would construct a “Nea Minneapolis” in the vast emptiness between the buildings of metropolitan Phoenix, and Dayton called for a “GNU Phoenix” in the interstices of sprawling metropolitan Minneapolis. Calculations in the technical report suggest all of the building of the two metropolitan areas could be overlaid without conflict, without requiring any more space. This would instantly double the density of each city, with all of the concomitant efficiency. Similarly, Tucson would co-locate with Duluth and Rochester, and Flagstaff with Saint Cloud. Metropolitan Phoenix/Minneapolis-St.Paul-Bloomington would have 4.3M +3.8M = 8.1 Million people, ranking 6th in the US.

But how to get from here to there? In their detailed implementation plans, they noted  a seasonal migration of over 12 million people. This would initially be done with aircraft, 12 million people flying 747s holding 660 passengers in high density mode would require 18182 flights each season. At one departing flight every 2 minutes (and one landing as well) (or 720 departures per day), this would require 25 days of non-stop flights. Given the flight time from MSP to PHX is 3 hours and 20 minutes, and then back again,  estimated at 9 hours considering layovers, refueling, cleaning, minor maintenance etc., this would require 270 Boeing 747s in operation for this migration, (the report notes this is a significant fraction of the 1294 Boeing 747s built, but you could substitute other aircraft as needed). The cost of $200 per passenger per trip implies this would cost $2.4 billion per season, which frankly, the multi-millionaire Target Corporation scion noted, “is pocket change”, and well less than winter heating and summer cooling costs.

The report also priced out a longer term option, building a new High Speed Rail from MSP to PHX. The report notes Japan runs 13 high speed trains per hour at 320km/h (200 MPH) (i.e. just over 4 minute headways). This would be nonstop, at 2054 km (1276 miles). The report also assumes that the track would be run in a straight-line through the Rockies. At $100 million per mile to build, using strong Rearden Metal, it would be a mere $127,600,000,000. Governor Dayton reminds us that we just spent collectively in the two cities about 5% of that on sports stadia. Such a train system could carry 20,000 passengers per hour. In 25 days, it too could move 12 million people. Since we know the operating cost of HSR is free, this would be more cost effective than aircraft in a mere 27 years.

Dayton closed by stating “Every October, all of us Minnezonans would hop on the train in New Minneapolis and less than 7 hours later, hop off the train in New Phoenix. The train would instantly turn around, switch tracks, and fly like the wind back to Minnesota to pick up its next payload. Instead of looking forward to 8 months of snow, us Minnezonans could enjoy Spring Training, while continuing our business virtually uninterrupted.”

Brewer argued the state should be called Arisota.