The Best of the 5-County Manifesto (translated)

[This is what it looks like.]
You might have missed it, but on Monday the five non-Ramsey or Hennepin counties of the 7-county metro had a high-profile meeting where they expressed their disgust at transit funding that actually takes account of poverty. I will heretofore refer to the 5 counties as CWADS (CWADS = Carver + Washington + Anoka + Dakota + Scott).

Here's the best part of the Strib article on the meeting:
But the strictly suburban counties — Anoka, Carver, Dakota, Scott and Washington — say their pleas haven’t been taken seriously. And as a result, they say, the plan focuses on transit and nonmotorized transportation without paying enough attention to highways and freight, which they count as their lifeblood.
“It seems like they don’t hear us,” said Carver County Board Chair Gayle Degler.

Don't get me wrong. I grew up in Dakota County. Some of my best friends remain in Dakota County. (Hell, I'm in Dakota county right now as I type this.) In fact, not being able to walk or bike or take the bus in Dakota County is one of the main reasons why I am blogging on this here blogsite.

At the center of the issue is a document we might call the CWADS manifesto [scroll to the bottom], which consists of 13 melodramatic pages written almost entirely in engineering and planning techno-babble. Because of this language barrier, I fear most people would not be able to make much sense of the thing. But given the amount of attention that CWADS generated at their meeting, it seems important to bring it to the masses.

That's why I've taken the liberty of translating the best parts of this fine document into plain English for you. Keep in mind, the art of translation is a delicate one. Many a hand has been wrung over the difference between synonyms. Rather than serving as a literal translation of every syllabic nuance, this translation attempts to stay true to the intention of the original.

[See this is what it looks like...]
Here are the highlights!
4c. Citizen members of the TAB should provide balanced viewpoints that reflect the diverse modal needs of the metropolitan area. The representation on Transportation Advisory Board and the Council prevents all transportation modes from being represented equally. This results in TPP direction being skewed toward transit and non-motorized transportation modes which cannot address the future transportation needs of much of the suburban metro area population.

Translation: I know the committee is already stacked with CWADS engineers, but we want it all. Those transit and bike people really need to shut up. Balance = cars. Have you noticed that everybody keeps driving? Put that in your tailpipe and smoke it already.

[Know your CWADS.]
5b. The plan contains multiple statements that are not supported by accompanying data and are skewed to transit and non-motorized policy (a few examples include: people want expanded transit, congestion represents economic vitality, and focus on operating and maintenance to stay competitive). Statements related to improving the highway system are virtually non-existent.

Translation: Congestion is good? People don’t want to drive all the time any more? What nonsense! I’ve been living in CWADS for my entire life and never seen any evidence of any of this horse crap.

7.a.    The current revenue scenario plan predominantly focuses on MnPASS and preservation for the regional highway system and has limited vision related to strategic capacity enhancements.
    c.    There is not enough detail about the principal arterial needs in the region. The region lacks principal arterial capacity today and in the future based on established spacing guidelines, yet the TPP does not adequately address these needs.
Translation: Money goes for roads. And not just any roads, but new roads. Like roads that weren't there before, and more lanes for them and even more lanes for these new roads that we already put lanes on. If money isn’t building new roads, what is it even doing? CWADS need new roads! CWADS has arterial needs! Haven’t you seen Trainspotting?

[Foreclosures in Carver County c. 2008]
8b.    There is little to no recognition of key local and trunk highway “A” minor and non- freeway principal arterial needs in the region.

Translation: OK I told you about my arterial needs, but you don't know how deep these run. We especially need wide new roads that go past still strip malls and brand new big box stores to replace the older empty big box stores. Oh, and have symbolic but unusable sidewalks.

    a.    Counties are truly Minnesota's subject matter experts when it comes to addressing poverty, and the causes of poverty. But these policy plans demonstrate no recognition of this experience and proficiency. Additionally, the plans contain no data demonstrating the effectiveness of the included strategies.

Translation: You don’t know me! Oh my god you have no idea what it's like to drive in this hellhole. CWADS exurban highway engineers know what’s best for us. They love us like a lover should, with wide new roads and park and rides that make us feel loved even if we never use them personally. Nobody knows us like we know ourselves. Oh yeah.

[Abandoned K-Mart in New Hope.]
10.a. The TPP does not recognize important resources suburban and rural counties contribute to improving and redeveloping the urban and urban centers and the entire region and State.
Translation: Where would Minneapolis be without CWADS and our resources? You know, things like… people who go to stadium concerts and ride on Pedal Pubs. How would the Coen Brothers make fun of their home town without a supply of suburban clich├ęs about places like Normandale? Where would you put your Cabelas-es?
Item #11: The TPP should highlight the importance of advancing both transportation and recreational bicycle trails.
    a.    Counties and cities have worked for many years to develop a regional and local recreational trail system and have invested significant local and federal funds to these networks.
    b.    Many county regional trails provide both recreation and transportation, paralleling the county and State roadways, yet will not have equal standing when competing for funding. Regional trail networks make important connections to schools, community centers, parks, and activity centers that can be reached by bicycling and walking.

Translation: Why is everyone pretending that you can actually ride your bike to actual places (like the store, or school, or work)? It’s obvious that bikes are for riding around in parks for exercise on a Sunday. So why not lets just count all those bike trails along side the high-speed roads even though nobody is riding on them. Just please, please don't make us stripe any bike lanes. That would be silly.

[Average Carver County home: Norwood Young America.]
12a.    The minimum 20 dwelling units per acre for fixed/dedicated guideway exceeds FTA New Starts/Small Starts guidelines of nine to fifteen dwelling units per acre and is unrealistic for some transitway station locations. This requirement limits communities’ ability to consider input from their residents and market conditions.
    b.    If land use density minimums are perceived to be unattainable, land owners and some communities along transit ways could potentially resist new transitways and station locations and slow the region’s investment in new transit corridors.
Translation: Why do we have to build apartment buildings? That’s ridiculous! Nobody is going to do that out here, and having to pretend to try is going to put everyone in a bad mood. Like a seriously bad mood, you have no idea. Also, get off my lawn.

16.f.    The regional importance criterion favor projects near areas of high job concentrations but does not account for areas of projected regional job growth particularly in the suburban areas and beyond.
Translation: When we're doing planning and building transit systems, it's really important to be sure and count all the imaginary growth we planned in our heads when we platted our roads and political careers. Surely one imaginary corporate office park is worth at least 2/3 of an actual corporate office park? Can't we work on this?
[Cars in Coon Rapids = not enough roads.]
Item # 13: The TPP restricts certain types of land uses such as “surface parking lots” immediately around transit station areas.
    a.    While the logic behind encouraging higher densities, mixed use, and more walkable land use is sound, the prohibition of certain types of land use is overly restrictive.
    b.    Local land use planning decisions are a city/county responsibility that should be made by elected officials and should not be mandated by the Metropolitan Council

Translation: OK, this is the last straw. If we can't build surface parking lots next to park-and-rides and BRT stations, where can we put them? Also, "surface parking lots", as if there was any other kind of parking lot? We refuse to even acknowledge the distinction. If we can't pave it, it doesn't exist.

[An empty lot by a Northstar station in Anoka County.]

No comments: