Sunday Summary – March 13, 2016

Image of Sunday Summary logoIn this week’s haul, two posts help us think about large issues which appear frequently on We’ve heard from readers and writers that background information, explainers, glossary-type information could be helpful for expanding and informing conversation about transportation and land use. This week you can learn about housing programs and think about political negotiation in transportation funding. What else do you want to know more about?

Important discussions of big issues

A Primer on Housing Programs is just what the title says it is. Dana DeMaster, responding to recent posts (like this and this) on affordable housing on and other sites, has created a catalog of the larger housing programs (there are many more smaller, more restrictive programs not noted here) to help us sort out what the program is, who qualifies, who funds it, and brief discussion of the program’s purpose, policy rationale and other helpful information. Commenters are grateful for the information and bring additional detail to particular housing locations (Cedar-Riverside) and tease out some of the complexities of housing policy, funding and development

James Warden tells us to Forget Big Dreams – What Would You Settle For? in the transportation funding debate. This post is an attempt to subvert last year’s adversarial exchange for transportation coalition MoveMN and against MoveMN’s proposal by understanding the disagreement by looking at it from the perspective of how each side evaluated what they believe is the best option available to achieve desired goals if a legislative deal fails. After looking at last year’s discussion, Warden turns to the new legislative season to develop his own proposal (which is strongly aligned with the Strong Towns’ position last year) for a “Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement.” 


Transit-Oriented Development in St. Paul: Connections that Create Value (cross-posted from The Line) catalogs transit-oriented development to convince us “transit investments — the METRO bus and light-rail system, the emerging arterial bus rapid transit (aBRT) system, enhanced bus service and more — are helping to build a more populous, prosperous region” with a strong nod to the Met Council and its “historic support of transit-oriented development (TOD)” with the result that “MSP’s development patterns align well with the Metro Transit system — at least in the core cities and in many suburbs.”

Retired Metro Transit planner Aaron Isaacs provides his Quarterly Transit Report: March 2016 with updates on Route 11 (service frequency doubled from 30 minutes to every 15 minutes) and other service increases, plus Green Line ridership numbers (and the impact of the U and special events, too).

People walking and biking

In Defense of a Paved Minnesota Valley State Trail responds media coverage of opposition to paving (here’s the City Pages story and the Strib’s) by arguing paving the trail will create an accessible, necessary link in the Twin Cities’ (and Monte Castleman’s native Bloomington) off-road trail network and the paved trail will not prevent off-road/off-trail use. Commenters tend to agree, but concerns about maintenance of the trail (given its floodplain location) and questioning the need for pavement, rather than the value of the natural trail.

Anton Schieffer takes a crack at Improving Pedestrian Experience in Minneapolis: Ninth and Nicollet, an intersection which was resurfaced, but not necessarily improved in 2015. The particular problem is drivers stopping in/on crosswalks when the light turns red and the lack of visual cues to stop further back or otherwise watch for people on foot. Some improvements are suggested (raised crosswalks, zebra stripes, additional signage or placement of traffic signals) to make this intersection work well, especially crucial with the Nicollet Mall improvements currently being planned. Commenters add enforcement of crosswalk violations to the list as important for making it all work.

Adam Miller reacts to Strib writer Steve Brandt’s opinion piece on bike lanes which observes “some are wondering, how much is enough?” Opinions Vary asks who is (are) the “some” who wonder whether Minneapolis has enough bike lanes and implies “some” may not be representative, or sufficiently large, or otherwise relevant. Mr Brandt replies in the comments with a defense of his piece, but other commenters are also skeptical of the weight or identity of “some.”

Connection from South Dakota to the Minneapolis and St. Paul paved off-road bicycle trail networks.

Connection from South Dakota to the Minneapolis and St. Paul paved off-road bicycle trail networks.

Quick looks

Chart of the Day: Bus Maintenance per Hour vs. Ridership compares bus maintenance costs and ridership across multiple cities; the Twin Cities fare about as well as other similarly sized systems.

Map Monday: Distressed Communities Index for Minnesota has three maps from the Distressed Communities Index at the county level, zip code level for the state, and zoomed in on Twin Cities’ zip codes. Eric Anondson provides the a quick guide to how the index is reached, looking for a census-block rather than zip-code level analysis and some thoughts on the pockets of distress within mostly undistressed Minnesota.

Links to cool stuff: Daylight Savings Links! Evolution of Coffee Shops, Beltline Magic, and the Perfect Storm is our new feature from The Direct Transfer with enough hints in the title to get you to click over and take a look.

Spring is happening fast here in Minnesota; enjoy the week on and your local streets (and write about it for us). Go ahead, jump right in!


Betsey Buckheit

About Betsey Buckheit

Betsey rides her pretty blue city bike, walks her energetic black dogs, and agitates for more thoughtful, long-range decision-making in Northfield, MN. You can follow her blog at