Tag: Minnesota

Join us at Rail~volution 2014

st-paul-green-lineA METRO Green Line train in downtown St. Paul, MN. Photo by Metro Transit via Flickr.

Smart Growth America staff are headed to Rail~volution 2014, next week and we want to see you there! Join us on September 21-24 in Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN, at one of the many sessions we will be speaking on or facilitating.

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Mayor Elizabeth Kautz on creating a thriving downtown – from scratch

Heart of the City in Burnsville

Community transformation typically requires both strong leadership and widespread buy-in from residents and business owners. Over the past 20 years, Burnsville, MN Mayor Elizabeth Kautz worked together with her community to shape a common vision for the city’s future growth and on the path to becoming more walkable, vibrant and sustainable.

Elizabeth Kautz is the mayor of Burnsville, MN and member of Smart Growth America’s Local Leaders Council. Located in the greater Minneapolis area on the Minnesota River, the site of what is today the city of Burnsville was dominated by agriculture until the middle of the 20th century. The population grew quickly during the subsequent decades but the city’s development pattern was heavily oriented to the automobile, leaving little infrastructure for pedestrians and no discernible downtown or urban center.

Since taking office in 1995, Mayor Kautz has taken steps to make the city more walkable and to implement smart growth development principles. Some of these strategies include creating a trail master plan, a Complete Streets policy that builds off a strong transportation system, and “a sustainability plan that incorporates a comprehensive look at our city including redevelopment, streets, our carbon footprint, and recycling.”

In a recent interview with Smart Growth America, Kautz identified the lack of a downtown as a significant issue for the city’s development efforts. In seeking to improve this, Kautz explains, “we put all of the regulatory and economic tools in place to create an urban center that is pedestrian-friendly with a beautiful urban park and performing arts center.” This plan came to fruition when the site of an outdated shopping center was transformed to become an economic development engine and cultural center called the “Heart of the City”. The 54-acre site is a smart growth project aiming to create a mixed-use, walkable downtown area. It has multiple retail shops, businesses, a community arts center, a park, and diverse housing options.

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Partnership in the News: HUD Staff Visits Two Grantees in Minnesota

In rural Baxter, Minnesota, HUD staff met with 175 community members representing area youth, seniors, business leaders and residents who had gathered to help guide the Region 5 Resilient Region planning process. The HUD team also visited the Twin Cities and a meeting of 200 community leaders and foundations to look at the progress that has been made on the Central Corridor Funders Collaborative, a group of local and national funders that support the Central Corridor Light Rail Line.

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Partnership in the News: Chamber of Commerce Leaders Promote Southwest Light Rail Line in St. Paul

A study commissioned by the Saint Paul Area Chamber of Commerce, the Minneapolis Regional Chamber, and the TwinWest Chamber, as reported by Minneapolis-St. Paul’s KARE 11,

found that 76 percent of Minnesotans polled agree the state would benefit from expanded public transportation. The same poll showed that 69 percent would like to use public transportation more often.


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Momentum Continues in the States

Though all eyes have been on federal transportation policy the last few weeks, states have continued to push forward with their Complete Streets efforts. Bills have been introduced in West Virginia and Rhode Island, and several states with Complete Streets policies in place move ahead with implementation.

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Smart growth news – June 13, 2011

Fix it first
Twin Cities Daily Planet, June 9, 2011
A new report shows that our state is spending nearly half of its highway capital on expanding roads and less than the national average on keeping them in good shape. And the national average is pretty discouraging, too. According to the report by Smart Growth America and Taxpayers for Common Sense, only four states and the District of Columbia are doing enough to keep good roads good and make bad roads better. Minnesota isn’t among them. The state Department of Transportation has quibbled with some of the study’s Minnesota-specific findings, but its own projections show a near-tripling of highway miles in poor condition over the next two decades.

Repair Priorities
Hawaii Reporter, June 10, 2011
Anybody that’s owned a house knows that keeping up with the maintenance is critical. Patching a small hole in the roof now is a heck of a lot less expensive than ignoring it and having to replace the entire rotten roof down the road. Unsurprisingly, the same applies to our nation’s infrastructure, and specifically the road network that we rely on to get where we are going and move the goods to get our economy humming.

Are the Millennials Driving Downtown Corporate Relocations?
The New Republic, June 9, 2011
In spite of the U.S. Census data for the past decade showing continued job de-centralization, there is now much anecdotal evidence for the just the opposite. The Chicago Crain’s Business Journal reports that companies such as Allstate, Motorola, AT&T, GE Capital, and even Sears are re-considering their fringe suburban locations, generally in stand alone campuses, and may head back to downtown Chicago.

Virginia: Alexandria presents alternative to waterfront plan as protests continue
Washington Post, June 11, 2011
About 200 Alexandria residents marched through Old Town on Saturday and converged on City Hall to protest a $51 million plan to bring hotels and other new development to the city’s waterfront. Opponents of the proposed project, who have organized as Citizens for an Alternative Alexandria Waterfront Plan, said they want the City Council to consider designs that include more parks, a focus on arts and Alexandria’s history, and have no hotels.

Minnesota: Two St. Croix River bridge plans follow far different approaches
Minneapolis Star Tribune, June 12, 2011
In an era of tight government budgets, it’s wasteful to build a bridge that doesn’t serve multiple purposes, said William Schroeer, of St. Paul, who is policy and research director for Smart Growth America, a nonprofit group that advocates sound economic development strategy. “In this era of $4- and $5-a-gallon gas, to spend money on a bridge that only cars can use — that doesn’t make sense,” he said.

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Smart growth news – June 9, 2011

Report: Deferred road repair poses financial liability
American City and County, June 6, 2011
Some states’ habit of spending on new road construction rather than on regular repair have left many states’ roads in poor condition, and costs to repair those roads are rising faster than states can address them, according to a new report from Washington-based Smart Growth America (SGA) and Taxpayers for Common Sense. The report, “Repair Priorities: Transportation spending strategies to save taxpayer dollars and improve roads,” examines road conditions and spending priorities nationwide and recommends changes at both the state and federal levels that the organization says can reduce future liabilities, benefit taxpayers and create a better transportation system.

U.S. Road Expansion Costing Taxpayers
The City Fix blog, June 8, 2011
A smaller initial investment in renewed priorities of road maintenance actively reduces the scale of future costs, found a new report by Smart Growth America. “Rehabilitating a road that has deteriorated is substantially more expensive than keeping that road in good condition,” the report says.

Scrimping on highway repairs leaves states in a bind
GovPro.com, June 8, 2011
Some states’ habit of spending on new road construction rather than on regular repair have left many states’ roads in poor condition, and costs to repair those roads are rising faster than states can address them, according to a new report from Washington-based Smart Growth America (SGA) and Taxpayers for Common Sense.

Metro Detroit’s bus system fight may risk millions
Detroit Free Press, June 8, 2011
Metro Detroit has its most realistic chance in a generation of creating a rail and bus transit system that could transform how the region commutes and launch economic redevelopment from downtown to the suburbs. But if Detroit and tri-county leaders can’t agree on combining city and suburban bus systems — an ambition that has eluded the region for decades — they risk forfeiting millions in federal money.

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Transportation for innovation in Minneapolis-St. Paul

Minneapolis and Saint Paul, MN, have formed an innovative partnership aimed at taking the Twin Cities region to a new level of prosperity. The Minneapolis-St. Paul Metropolitan Business Plan, created as a part of the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program, is a long-term strategy for sustainable economic growth in which the cities will pool their assets rather than competing against each other. Minneapolis-St. Paul is home to a number of universities and colleges, Fortune 500 companies and medical research facilities, and the region’s business plan will help reduce transaction costs between businesses, inventors, suppliers, workers and consumers through better infrastructure and networking programs.

Economic activity thrives where transaction costs are lowest, and the Minneapolis-St. Paul plan aims to reduce these costs whenever possible. One of the ways the plan will do this is by constructing a light-rail line linking universities, medical and research institutions, central business districts and population centers throughout the region. Doing so will increase interaction between businesses and connect the area’s patent-holders with the economic actors that have capital to invest, hopefully increasing the percentage of inventions from the region that make it into the global marketplace. In addition to connecting existing assets like universities and medical centers, the cities will also encourage new development along the light-rail line to maximize the return on their investment.

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Red Wing, Minn Writes an Rx for Business: Complete Streets

Red Wing, Minn., is a great example of a small town adopting a Complete Streets policy as key part of its efforts to improve public health, economic investment, and quality of life. Today’s post, written by Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, tell’s Red Wing’s Complete Streets story. And be sure to check out a new fact sheet on other small towns and rural communities adopting Complete Streets policies.

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Complete Streets Trailblazers Set Tone for Coalition Strategy Meeting

A panel of Complete Streets leaders launched our 2011 Strategy Meeting and quickly set a high bar for the day. Panelists spoke on their experience at the local, regional, and state levels, sharing their methods and challenges with the 55 attendees.

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