Thursday, August 21, 2008

Killing the Opposition's Density Meme

Chicken and Egg again. I'm not saying that the move not to go into Scott County isn' t the right one in the Twin Cities Region. Being fairly far outside of the core, it's not likely to get a rail link to downtown any time soon.

But for Peter Bell, the head of the Metropolitan Council to claim that there will only be two more light rail lines in the region because of population density shows that people still don't get it, the people that are supposed to. They still don't understand that transportation is an investment made in part to decide later land use. I can think of three light rail corridors in the Twin Cities that are in planning. Does this mean that only two get rail because the other one has no chance to regenerate?
"There will only be one or two additional light rail lines in this region," council chair Peter Bell warned. "We just simply don't have the population density, and we won't get the federal matching dollars.
These are unfortunate comments from someone who should know better than to reinforce the auto-centric density meme. This is one of these things that everyone should be on message about. We really need to hammer our leaders on this issue because we'll never get anything done if people are repeating what the opposition wants the message to be, especially when false. Was Arlington County dense enough to get a Metro Subway? Was the Pearl District dense enough to get a streetcar?

This meme needs to stop, and you know who has been aiding and abetting? From Peter Bell's quote, it's our favorite Mary Peters and her FTA. They don't believe in land use or transit changing land use patterns. In fact, they encourage under investment in transit by telling cities they can't build light rail lines unless they have a cost-effectiveness measure that matches current conditions, not future. Again, transit investment is about shaping future growth patterns. We know this because we have seen what transportation investment has done to our growth over the last 60 years.


Logan said...


Minneapolis/St.Paul is a pretty progressive region, but when it comes to transportation, we just seem to stumble all over ourselves.

Hopefully, a new president in November (one of them, anyway) will give us a more pro-transit secretary of transportation and more dollars for projects like this. Hopefully.

Anonymous said...

This guy ought to take a look at a map of what kind of streetcar system that the twin cities use to have!

Richard Layman said...


1. Steve Belmont's book also studies Minneapolis, and he is based there or at least was.

2. The UMN Access to Destinations research project does very interesting work, but in some sense it is auto-oriented, because of the mobility mix in that region.