In 1982, the Twin Cities had the 35th-worst congestion in the nation. By 2016, it had grown to be the 17th-worst and amount of time the average commuter spent in traffic had quadrupled. If you are stuck in traffic in the Twin Cities, says this new report, don’t blame population growth; blame the Metropolitan Council, the region’s metropolitan planning organization.
Click image to download a 1.7-MB PDF of this report.
The Metropolitan Council’s official attitude is, “We can’t build our way out of congestion, so we will provide alternatives to congestion” in the form of light rail, bike paths, and maybe a few high-occupancy/toll lanes. The council’s 2040 plan has $6.9 billion programmed for transit improvements, $700 million for bike paths, and $700 million for road improvements. That means 8 percent of the funds goes for the 90 percent of the people who drive to work while 83 percent goes for the 6 percent who take transit. Continue reading
In late February, the Twin Cities Metropolitan Council issued its draft Thrive 2040 plan for public review. No one will be surprised to learn it is a standard smart-growth plan with lots of emphasis on transit, high-density housing in transit corridors, and reducing driving. Of course, this isn’t always obvious, as the plan uses euphemisms such as “affordable housing” when it means high-density housing and “orderly and efficient land use” when it means restricting development in rural areas.
Click image to download the 3.7-MB plan.
The Met Council calls it the Thrive plan because it wants to give the impression that, without government planning, the region will wither away and die. Of course, the Antiplanner believes the opposite is true, and that it would be more accurate to call it a poverty plan, since it will likely make housing unaffordable and require higher taxes, both of which will slow economic growth.
The Minneapolis Star-Tribune frets that “getting around the Twin Cities is nearly as costly as housing.” According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics consumer expenditure survey, the average resident of the Twin Cities spent $10,359 on shelter in 2012 and $9,897 on transportation.
“In 2007, the annual cost of housing was $3,173 more than annual transportation costs,” says reporter David Peterson. “By 2012, the gap had shrunk to $462.” Without any grounds for doing so, Peterson speculates that “rising transport costs may also be due in part to our sprawling development patterns, leading to lots of long and congested single-motorist drives.”
Let’s test that theory. The BLS estimated that the average consumer spent $8,806 on transportation in 2011. Thus, the 2012 costs were 12 percent higher than in 2011. Does Peterson really think that the Twin Cities sprawled enough in one year to drive up transport costs by 12 percent?