consultants are sandburs

Thursday, February 21, 2013

There is the "Counties Transportation Improvement Board," which appears to be a pot of money to draw from, with it unclear to me who runs the show. Is it another arm of Met Council, or independent, and what are the politics of the animal?

If you have never heard of this Counties Transit Improvement Board, or know little about it, join the crowd. There is this, in ABC Newspapers reporting of the Northstar parking ramp now being planned in Anoka, where earlier a flat parking lot was deemed sufficient:

Anoka City Council has approved plans for a $10.4 million parking ramp at the Anoka Rail Station.

The three-level ramp will have 333 parking spaces. Construction is expected to start on the south surface parking lot this spring. The Anoka Station Ramp will be located at the corner of Fourth Avenue and Pierce Street to serve the city’s Northstar Commuter Rail passengers.

The ramp will be funded by a variety of sources, including a $5.85 million federal grant the city received back in 2005. Also contributing is the Anoka County Regional Rail Authority with $575,000, along with $2 million from the Counties Transportation Improvement Board. Both of those additional sources were sparked from Anoka County Commissioner Matt Look’s support of the project.

Anoka will fund more than $1.9 million of the construction costs, which will come from the city’s TIF revenues from the new Volunteers of America senior housing project.

Councilmember Jeff Weaver recalled a time when the city council was not on board with approving the parking ramp, which at one time was estimated to cost $12 million.

But with the help of Anoka County and CTIB, Weaver said the council has changed its tune.

“Not taking one penny out of the general fund is making it much easier to say yes,” said Weaver. “Whether you believe in the train or not, whether you like the train or not, I think we’re very fortunate the train stops in Anoka.”

That is like saying, "We do not really need it, but for $2 million from our local pockets we are not passing it up."

Fiscal conservatism is a strange thing. One I admit I do not fully understand.

About the animal, here in connection with Met. Council; here, with another mystery, the "Transportation Finance Advisory Committee," named. It all seems a bit Orwellian, or out of the film, Brazil. They have all that stuff, yet they go and let bridges fall. Anoka getting that ramp deal, is it only about playing hard to get vs. hot to trot? Could Kafka negotiate transportation-and-transit funding in Minnesota? Without metamorphosing?

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