Report: Minnesota Has More Than 800 Bridges in Urgent Need of Repair

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Sean Smuda
Minnesota still has a lot of bridges to repair despite increased awareness after the 35W bridge collapse in 2008

Here's something to keep in mind as the state legislature hammers out its transportation bill in the next two weeks: A study released yesterday found Minnesota has 830 bridges that are classified as "structurally deficient," meaning they are in "urgent need of repair or replacement."

Transportation for America's annual report on bridge safety has all sorts of alarming numbers to worry about.

See also:
Balky Sabo Bridge Consultant Same Firm That Consulted on I-35 Bridge Before It Collapsed


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Southwest Light Rail's New $2 Billion Price Tag Puts Project on Life Support

Categories: Transportation

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Michael Hicks/Flickr
The new price tag would tack on and extra $341 million to the project's total cost

Today Southwest Light Rail's opponents' battle cry -- "Boondoggle! Boondoggle!" -- grew a whole lot louder.

Met Council just announced higher-than-expected construction bids combined with worse-than-imagined pollution along SWLRT's route has pushed its estimated cost up at least another $341 million, to a total of just under $2 billion.

See also:
Southwest Light Rail Might Need More Local Dollars


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Freeloading Green Line Passengers Cost Metro Transit up to $22,000 per Week

Categories: Transportation

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Dee_Dee_Creamer/Flickr
The Green Line had way more people not paying for rides than the Blue Line

Thousands of people ride light rail without paying for it. There's no way to completely prevent it; fare evasion is part of operating any mass transit project.

Metro Transit performed an audit last fall to try to get an estimate on the number of freeloading light rail riders its dealing with, and it found between 2.6 and 3.6 percent of riders on the Blue Line aren't paying. On the Green Line that number jumps to somewhere between 4.6 and 9.0 percent.

See also:
Metro Transit Ridership Highest in Decades [GRAPH]


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Company Plans to Build High Speed Rail Between Twin Cities and Rochester

Categories: Transportation

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Sharon Hahn Darlin via Flickr
Can private investors finance a high-speed rail line like this one in China?
A new company called North American High Speed Rail Group really wants a high-speed passenger rail line running between Rochester and the Twin Cities.

Rather than waiting for various governments to squawk through a tedious, decades-long battle like we saw with the Green Line or Southwest Light Rail, the company says it's just going to build the damn thing itself.

See also:
Plans Moving Forward For Minneapolis-to-Duluth High-Speed Passenger Rail Line

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Uber Cranks Up Lobbying Effort in Response to Insurance Bill

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Uber
Will Uber leave Minnesota?

Uber is pushing hard to stop, or at least water down a bill that would increase insurance requirements of "transportation network companies" in Minnesota.

Yesterday the lobbying started with a truck driving around the Capitol carrying a message about how the bill will kill 5,000 jobs.

See also:
Uber Threatens to Leave Minnesota If It Has to Get Better Insurance Coverage

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Uber Threatens to Leave Minnesota If It Has to Get Better Insurance Coverage

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Uber press kit
The bill would require Uber to carry a $1.5 million insurance policy whenever a driver is logged into the app

Minnesota is considering a bill that would require so-called Transportation Network Companies like Uber and Lyft to carry a $1.5 million insurance policy for drivers any time they're logged onto the app.

If that happens, Uber says it's taking its ball and heading home.

See also:
Twin Cities Cab Drivers Try to Beat Uber, Lyft at Own Game


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Streetcars' Benefit "Elusive and Debatable," According to Study

Categories: Transportation

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Seattle Municipal Archives via Flickr
Will modern streetcars ever get built in the Twin Cities?
The case for streetcars took a pretty big hit this week when a Met Council study found measuring the economic impact of streetcars is "elusive and debatable" compared to other development incentives.

And streetcar critics have long pointed out they aren't any faster (and in a lot of cases slower) than buses while costing much, much more. Despite this, Minneapolis and St. Paul steadfastly cling to streetcar hopes while waiting for the Met Council to approve pending plans.

See also:
Minneapolis Officials Taking Heat for $200 Million Central-Nicollet Streetcar Plan

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Federal Funds Earmarked for Southwest LRT Yet Future Remains Murky

Categories: Transportation

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Photo by: Unsplash
A lawsuit, a divided state government, and D.C. budget wrangling leave the SW LRT line uncertain at best.

As a federal judge decides what to do with a Minneapolis citizens' group suit aimed at kiboshing the Southwest LRT line, the Obama administration further muddied the project's waters when it penciled in funds to start construction.

Included in President Obama's 2016 budget request, which was issued earlier this week, is $150 million to begin construction on the line next year.

See also:
Mpls approves Southwest LRT, paving way for legislature to wrangle over funding


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Metro Transit Ridership Highest in Decades [GRAPH]

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Michael Hicks via Flickr
Impressive ridership on the Green Line paved the way to a record year
In 2014 Metro Transit had its highest ridership in more than 30 years, with 84.5 million trips taken on either bus, train or light rail.

Couple that with the opening of the $80 million Target Field Station and $957 million Green Line connecting Minneapolis and St. Paul and that adds up to a pretty damn good year for public transit.

See also:
How Was Metro Transit Bus Service During Winter's First Storm? [GRAPH]

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Dayton to Park Board: Get Behind Southwest Light Rail or It'll Cost You

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Minnesota National Guard via Flickr
Dayton cranks up the heat on threats to SWLRT
The feud between Governor Dayton and the Minneapolis Park Board over Southwest Light Rail just got real.

Today as part of Dayton's $42 billion, two-year budget proposal he recommended slashing $3.77 million in state funding for the Park Board unless it drops its insistence on tunneling the tracks underneath the Kenilworth Channel.

See also:
Met Council Ignores Tunnel Drama, Presents SWLRT Bridge Designs

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