Met Council trims Twin Cities highway projectsby Dan Olson, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — The Metropolitan Council approved a plan Wednesday to cut back on transportation projects in the Twin Cities metro area over the next two decades. Lack of money is the main reason for the change.
Met Council officials say the wish list of projects that would add lanes and new interchanges to relieve congestion total $40 billion over the next 20 years. Planners say the state gas tax would need to be increased by $2 per gallon to pay the bill.
The result is a revised transportation plan that calls for spending available money to preserve and repair roads and bridges that are already part of the system. Officials say increasing capacity to handle more vehicles will be done by adding more toll lanes through the MnPass system.
The plan also calls for trying to attract more car commuters to ride express buses, which use highway shoulders as lanes to give them an advantage over other vehicles.
One suburban official told MPR News the revised Twin Cities transportation plan is being met with grudging acceptance in communities outside the central cities. But others have criticized the Met Council revision process.
Scott County Attorney Pat Ciliberto told the Met Council it has violated its public comment process. He added that a Scott County commissioner "received only rude and derogatory responses from the council staff when he protested the lack of review."
Met Council Chairman Peter Bell said there's been an apology for the staff responses, but in a five-page response, Bell said the council has followed procedure.
Among the projects that are no longer part of the transportation plan is a longstanding goal to add a third lane of traffic to the Twin Cities' beltway system, Interstates 694 and 494.
Another project that's been dropped from the plan is the widening of State Highway 5 through the southwestern Twin Cities.
The revised plan's transit strategy calls for more rail and bus expansion where cost effective.
- All Things Considered, 11/10/2010, 5:50 p.m.