President Obama: 'We Can't Wait' For Expanded Transit In Minneapolis & Cleveland

Determined not to let 'congressional gridlock slow economic growth', Pres. Obama added two major transit projects to his 'We Can't Wait" initiative: the proposed Southwest Light Rail Line and Cleveland's University Circle – Little Italy Rapid Station

President Obama announced the addition of the two transit projects to his economic stimulative program on Oct. 1. The "We Can't Wait" initiative expedites transportation projects through a Presidential Executive Order as opposed to congressional legislation.

"Per a presidential executive order issued in March, the Office of Management and Budget was charged with overseeing an effort to make the permitting and review process for certain infrastructure projects more efficient to shave time off the projects' schedules."

The Southwest LRT line, a "high frequency train serving the rapidly growing southwest metro area" in Hennepin County, including the Minneapolis suburbs of St. Louis Park, Hopkins, Edina, Minnetonka, and Eden Prairie will bring them downtown and also provide "connections to the Hiawatha, Central, and Northstar rail lines." Planning is being done by the Hennepin County Regional Railroad Authority.

Local radio station, KARE 11 covered the support by the three largest local chambers of commerce. John Croman reports on the major political obstacle that, no doubt, President Obama would be able to relate to - opposition by Republican state legislators who didn't support past light rail projects. (See video accompanying the Feb 28, 2012 article, "Metro business groups promote Southwest Light Rail")

"The existing Hiawatha Light Rail line did not enjoy much Republican support, and the GOP lawmakers tried strip funding from Central Corridor Line currently under construction in Saint Paul and Minneapolis."

Progressive Railroading also reported on the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority's project, the University-LIttle Italy Rapid Station, that "involves the relocation of an existing station and construction of a new rail-transit station along with the rehabilitation of two rail bridges. The project is designed to integrate the station with the dense, high employment areas of the Little Italy neighborhood and University Hospitals."

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Full Story: Obama's 'We Can't Wait' initiative expedites Minneapolis, Cleveland transit projects



Supporting Transit Investments

Urban planners tend to clap like seals whenever they hear the word "transit" and I would guess that most are in support of this effort. I hesitate to comment because I do not know the particulars on these projects but in general I have found that transit investments rarely generate an adequate return on investment for taxpayers because the associated infrastructure (sidewalks, bicycle lanes, park and ride facilities) connecting people to the transit stop continues to be inadequate. Pushing this through hastily (if that is indeed the case) may not be the best use of limited taxpayer funds.

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