consultants are sandburs

Saturday, February 02, 2013

Read this. It is a good idea.

ABC Newspapers reporting online, "Cities sign on with county to lobby for Highway 10 funding, - By Mandy Moran Froemming on January 31, 2013 at 7:05 am"

In exchanging email with Matt Look I informed him I thought the coordinated effort a good one. I complimented him on the effort and promised I would say so on Crabgrass.

This link - for the report.


Look represents District 1, which includes Ramsey and portions of Anoka.

“We’re not talking about bridges to nowhere here,” Look said. “We’re talking about congestion, we’re talking about fatalities.”

Some of the current intersections are also complicated by the rail line that runs parallel to Highway 10, causing both traffic backups and major safety concerns.

Look said emergency responders are being caught on the north side of the train tracks while accidents are happening on the south side of Highway 10.

The group, which in addition to Look will include three representatives from the city of Anoka and two from Ramsey, plans to visit Washington in March when it hopes to meet with U.S. House Transportation Committee Chairman Bill Shuster along with Rep. Michele Bachmann as well as Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken. They will also be joined by Ken Butler, Anoka County’s federal transportation lobbyist.

“The county has redirected all of our regional rail dollars to road dollars now,” said Look. “Our hope is to elevate this project not only on the federal radar but on the state radar and through the TAB (Transportation Advisory Board) process and the STIP (State Transportation Improvement Plan) and everything else that needs to happen.”

Look is currently a member of the TAB.

Federal funding could spur the project, which currently does not have any state funding, he said.

“It’s important for us to get in front of Washington, D.C., at this point and try to get some dollars,” Look said. “We have seen in the past if federal dollars come ahead of state planning, all of the sudden the state plans miraculously change.”

[... I]n Ramsey, the push has been on for upgrading the Armstrong Boulevard intersection [with Highway 10] with plans for an interchange coming together.

This $35 million project is also top of Anoka County’s wish list for the 2013 Minnesota Legislature seeking $17 million in state bonding to go along with $10 million in federal funding that is being sought. Anoka County and the city of Ramsey are also expected to chip in $4 million each. The project is also supported by MnDOT, should funding become available.

Creating an interchange at Armstrong will improve public safety, commercial traffic and congestion, said Kurt Ulrich, Ramsey city administrator.

Ulrich and Ramsey Mayor Sarah Strommen will join the local delegation in Washington to lobby for federal funding.

Currently the intersection is within the two car lengths of the rail line, making it unsafe, said Ulrich.

For the Anoka perspective, read the item, I left that out.

There is only one thing I would complain about, using a paid lobbyist, see above, "They will also be joined by Ken Butler, Anoka County’s federal transportation lobbyist."

At least it is not Elwyn Tinklenberg. But to me, paid lobbying is distasteful. If that is how the game is played, I suggest it is not how the game should be played. Taxpayer money going to lobbyists, is an injustice to Ben Dover, the Ramsey Taxpayer.

Paying for local officials to go to Washington DC to talk to other officials, and to explain official needs and hopes is an entirely different thing from paid lobbying [aka schmoozing and boozing, whatever] and I support trying to engage federal officials' support by that means. Council members and a town's top administrator going to DC to interact is a horse of a different color from paying some professional lobbyist, one earning a living doing that sort of thing, with the one wholly decent and the other substantially less decent.


Ryan said...

I like that the cities of Ramsey and Anoka have come together to lobby, but I still don't understand why money would be spent at Armstrong blvd before Hwy 47 and 10, before Fairoak, before Thurston, before Sunfish, and before Ramsey.

Oh wait that's right....we've spent millions in the COR and somebody has promised big things once that overpass is built.....such small narrow thinking...

I just can't get on board with that type of thinking. The transit issues on HWY 10 are more than obvious to all of us, but what does spending $35M at Armstrong do to impact transit on HWY 10 and why would the federal government spend money there?

If you think the federal government is going to provide funding for an overpass to a struggling publicly owned developmnent you are delusional.

That being said improving HWY 10 in general does make Ramsey a more desirable option for residents and business so I hope our Ramsey leadership contingent fights the big fight in this case instead of wasting time and money lobbying for Armstrong.

eric zaetsch said...

Ryan - Talk to Jason Tossey.

His concerns are close to mine, for that interchange.

Safety because of the track - highway being so close.

Emergency response. Thurston has an overpass at the tracks. That's west end of Anoka. Armstrong is west end of Ramsey, so two separated emergency response overpasses makes sense.

Nobody really is going to leave the highway because they see the BIG SIGN. Nobody will regardless of how the interchanges are configured. That's somebody's hope and dream, not reality.

Two reasons, safety and emergency response. As distant from Thruston as feasible, a second train track bypass.

Tossey and I agree on that.

Ryan said...

Just put in one of those brilliant concrete medians and everything should be fine right?

I like the safety argument because there is logic in that argument but I just don't think that will be the winning sales pitch for federal funding.

The win will come from promoting what benefits the whole and that means the focus has to be on improving traffic flow and safety on HWY 10 from HWY 47 to Elk River. The economic development of this entire area has been hamstrung by transit issues and although I'd like to think narrowly and hope Ramsey gets dollars to build a bridge at Armstrong I just can't be on board until the transit issues further to the east get the attention first.

eric zaetsch said...

Thanks again, Ryan.

A detail - "... from HWY 47 to Elk River."

As a first priority, I suggest, "... from HWY 47 to HWY 101."

Elk River is an entirely different thing, how that knot can be rerouted toward Becker, St. Cloud.

The two lights in Anoka seem worse than those in Ramsey, but for people living in Elk River, is that so? I have no idea.

The Main Street entrance ramp by the Perkins is one where I am surprised the accident rate is not greater.

And in Anoka, too many entrances and exits, it should be more limited access. When Hwy 10 gets fixed, what interchanges might be eliminated.

Fairoak is worse than Thurston. Even with the school at Thurston having periodic heavy traffic.

And I have heard that Anoka people will leave the table any time fixing the Ferry Street joke is proposed; highstrung folks as they are. That's a factor.