How to make the Twin Cities the best region in America

The good life in Minnesota: A 12-step plan to greatness in the Midwest

Have you noticed that you seem to be spending a lot more time in traffic lately? Don't worry, you're not alone.

According to the Washington-based tracking firm INRIX, traffic in the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro was up 16 percent last year compared to 2012, making MSP the 16th most congested metro in the country.

"Traffic here is unbelievable," complains acclaimed photographer Alec Soth. "I live in south Minneapolis and I work in St. Paul, and every year it gets worse and worse. It's affecting the quality of life."

Meanwhile, our embryo of a light rail system lags behind lauded examples such as Denver and Portland, Oregon, as well as lesser lights like Dallas and Salt Lake City.

What that should tell us is that we can't rest on our laurels. A city that wants to thrive needs to be mobile. And that will take serious investments over the coming years.

With the Green Line light rail on University Avenue set to open in June, there's a major push for mass transit going on already. But we shouldn't only fall in love with light rail trains, streetcars, and other high-tech hardware, warns Joan Pasiuk of Bike Walk Twin Cities, a federally funded initiative that aims to help people get out of their cars.

"We have a world-class system of trails, and those are used lovingly for recreational purposes," Pasiuk says. "But we need to connect them to a real network, so that people can get to daily destinations like work, school, the post office, or the grocery store. The less cars are required, the more households will have the economic advantage of not owning one."

What is sorely needed is settling on a metro-wide, long-term plan and sticking to it, says John Adams, an urban geographer and professor emeritus at the University of Minnesota.

"Cities change slowly, and it takes about 50 years to get where you want to go, but if you don't believe in planning, every inch of the way is a fight."

The lack of a mature public transit network isn't just a problem for drivers, notes rapper Toki Wright, who is also a community organizer and the head of the hip-hop studies department at the McNally Smith College of Music in St. Paul. It's also a major obstacle for those who don't have a car, let alone a job.

"If I have to take two hours and transfer three buses to get to a decent paying job in the suburbs, and I have kids, it's less likely that I'm going to take that job."

4. Build denser cities

The Metropolitan Council, MSP's planning board, projects that the region will grow to 3.67 million people in 2040, up from 2.84 million at the time of the 2010 census. Where are we going to put all those new people?

To many, the answer is clear: We'll have to get denser.

"Here in Minneapolis, we've plotted out exactly where we want to grow," says Rybak. "On the river, around the football and baseball stadiums, by the farmers market and where Kmart is today. Those areas are ready for tens of thousands more people without having any negative impact on the single-family residential neighborhoods."

That's easier said than done. All around town, plans for denser development have been met with stiff resistance from residents who fear their neighborhoods will be ruined when even modest-sized multi-story apartment and mixed-use buildings go up.

We shouldn't let the NIMBY syndrome hold us back, says John Adams. "People just resist change. What's familiar is what's thought to be necessary."

Joan Pasiuk envisions a region where public transit puts commercial areas within reach for bicyclists and pedestrians. "Land use is huge," she says.

There is no reason why increased density couldn't go along with more open space, says Pasiuk, because if people drive less, we won't need as many roads. "There are some efforts now to think about greenways and streets that can be decommissioned for motor vehicle travel. Those can become a linear park, a gathering place, a source of community pride."

5. Prepare for climate change

The weather is always a big deal around here, but because of climate change it's about to become even bigger. Various local governments have studied the issue, and they all end up at the same conclusion: Things will get uncomfortable quite often.

"Minnesotans should expect more difficult summers, with intense heat waves increasingly common, more prevalent water- and insect-borne diseases, and a greater number of days with low air quality," states the climate plan that the city of Minneapolis drew up last year.

That is a crisis waiting to happen, says John Abraham, a climate expert at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul. "Particularly for people who are vulnerable: older folks and young kids. They will be less able to have their bodies fight off the heat."

During recent heat waves in Europe and Russia, thousands died of heat-related causes. Since the Twin Cities will be exposed to similar weather patterns, we must come up with heat emergency plans, says Abraham.

"Expect the unprecedented," says MPR's chief meteorologist and climate guru Paul Huttner. "We seem to be having what we call 'weather whiplash', where we swing from one extreme to the other. We could go from flood to drought in just a few weeks."

« Previous Page
 |
 
1
 
2
 
3
 
4
 
5
 
6
 
All
 
Next Page »
 
My Voice Nation Help
32 comments
phux
phux

BETTER FOR WHO?? DEVELOPERS AND YUPPIES? WHO WANTS MORE TECH? WHAT SO WE CAN HAVE EVEN MORE RICH FUCKERS DRIVING AROUND TOWN IN THEIR FANCY CARS WITH THEIR ME FIRST ATTITUDES? This is such a clusterfuck of an article. The main point of it and of many of the new kids in the city council though is DEVELOPMENT. Did construction companies pay for this article? Its a developers wet dream. Our city is already a great place! We need better transit for sure, but that's because its being done wrong. Everybody agrees we need better transit. But the same morons pushing more condos are pushing light rail on the street level. I do like how the cover picture shows elevated trains, but unfortunately that is not happening here. And they are pushing for more tech jobs. As if trickle down hadn't been disproven already... a bunch of rich brats with tech jobs doesn't make our city a better place. Unless you think plundering our city is a good thing. And until we do have a full network of trains and buses that actually come regularly during drinking hours and all the rest of the time we need our streets, so don't even talk about shutting down roads until that happens. How can you talk about reducing traffic and about making roads smaller at the same time? when you don't have the light rail in place yet?? And take a good luck of what befell Uptown and you will see what more tech workers and the condos being built for them will do to our once cool city. They fucking demolished uptown and built a bunch of ugly high priced condos and luxury apartments. They tore down the Uptown bar and put in an Apple Store. Uptown is ruined and this article is the leading charge to do the same thing to the rest of the city. Fuck that! You fucking yuppies and douche bag rich kids suck! You are ruining what used to be a good city. A city that was affordable and working class is now being sold off to developers by technocrats. How about affordable housing? Why wasn't that mentioned? Why wasn't it mentioned that RT Ryback and City Council ignored affordable housing in favor of kickbacks from construction companies who built condos? Affordability has been a problem for years, and its getting worse, and now you call for making it even worse. Not to mention our city is great because of parks etc. and those parks are already overused, so do we really need even more people so that you can't find a space on a beach or at a park?

Rick Miller
Rick Miller

Screw diversity Diversity =weakness Unity = strength One way to help traffic? Quit having Somalis relocate here

joecool1999
joecool1999

Here's a dose of reality from these same Citypages: "Rents are increasing despite a less-than-booming job market, the repot indicates, citing Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development stats showing only 900 new jobs were created in the Twin Cities during the first quarter of the year. " 


The Twin Cities has always had a good job market for well-connected local yokels. For well-educated outsiders, its opportunities are little better than "loser cities" than Detroit and St. Louis.

joecool1999
joecool1999

This article includes the usual clueless garbage. Great place for white males? Great place for white males over 6'2" who are from the area. If you're not one of those white males you will be shit on by the local "feminist" females and anyone else who can get away with it. I used to think this was a great place for liberalism. Then I learned from experience it is the male-bashing, bigoted form of "liberalism". Yuck. No wonder people from the real cities don't take MSP seriously. It is every bit as discriminatory as the Jim Crow south, just with different targets of abuse, different selected "winner and loser" groups.

Ryan Bethke
Ryan Bethke

it would be good..if it were in "world pages"

David Hlavac
David Hlavac

Yup, Sinclair Lewis had that whole midwestern inferiority complex thing pegged around 100 years ago. Still relevant as hell today.

carnivalminds
carnivalminds

"Why are you plugging a rapper and his resume in regards to transit issues? Why not quote a transportation planner that "plans traffic" professionally?"
- noted Minneapolis resident, me.

cholm1976
cholm1976

I'd like to see a very limited and controlled amount of development allowed right on the river / one of the lakes. A small riverfront plaza area with bars/restaurants right on the water would likely be hugely popular. Maybe even a pier on the river modeled after ocean piers that have shops, etc. I know I really wish there were spots where I could hang out and drink a beer next to the water.

loserdroid
loserdroid

#1 should be "Build a dome over the whole fucking thing."

Mohit Sharma
Mohit Sharma

!! Breaking News ! Breaking News!Breaking News!!→ » Now earn 500-1000 rupees everyday only in 5-10 Minutes→ » Now its easier than ever to earn money from the internet . Just fill in a few steps, you can earn money very easily .→ » Just go to the link below and fill the steps which has been told, there you will get the Money. This process is 100% secure.¤Approved by Facebook and the Reserve Bank of India. ¤→Link » http://getpaid4fblikes1.wapka.mobi

Sam Adamsson
Sam Adamsson

This is what I don't like about the twin cities... We're insecure. Why do we have to compete or try to make ourselves appear nicer to outsiders? I get and respect the need to improve and grow, but it seems like we are sooooo desperate to be liked.

Eric Ramsey
Eric Ramsey

Remove all roads from Detroit and Chicago. But do it 40 years ago.

Travis Mueller
Travis Mueller

ummm... hello? the state just gave rochester...i mean MAYOCHESTER, about $500 million to become a Destination Medical Center (DMC)..... the twin cities are over... just a north suburb of MAYOCHESTER now...

Truth_Teller_1
Truth_Teller_1

Makes you wanna puke!

And all it takes is OPM - other people's money.   The socialist's will create a great city - just like the Soviet Union - with their 7 year plans.

DaveTheDopeFiend
DaveTheDopeFiend

@phux Wow, you sound so scared of things that are well beyond your control: progress and change. Are you sure you can handle life? It's a city -- cities have to adapt to the times, otherwise they become places like Detroit. Sorry that tech workers are ruining what "once was a great city." From what I hear, downtown wasn't all that great 10, 20 years ago, and the North Loop was where you went to get yourself murdered. So yeah, maybe you should just stick to the suburbs instead of worrying about those of us who actually appreciate where the city is headed.

carnivalminds
carnivalminds

@phux There is this thing called a paragragh. You state your premis and then support it with 3-4 sentences, Often times you have a break. Like a carrige return. It still don't make up for the I think I'm New York pages quoting a rapper about something a civil engineer should handle.
:)

heterosectional1
heterosectional1

@cholm1976 No development along the Mississippi here in TCs. Just conversion of rat filled old flour mills to apartment houses for rick yuppies. Just came back from Davenport, Iowa on a riverboat cruise. Fabulous views. There's a little town right on the river bank! We have nothing like that here. Mipples is still a hick town. Hennepin Avenue is a DISGRACE. Supposed to be the theater district and gateway to the Mississippi. It is full of empty store fronts and fag bars. And the Mall is appalling. Black boys with their low butt pants hitting on white women. NOPLACE TO PARK IN THE STREET! 


As for me, I'm self-employed and very busy working out of my own home near downtown. Only place I go is the Uptown McDs to look at the weirdos for entertainment. And I can park for free at McDs and Lunds.

joecool1999
joecool1999

Not so much desperate to be liked as desperate to be admired, praised, viewed as superior. As far as being liked....nothing to worry about there....nobody is going to like the people in the Twin Cities any time soon.....self-obsessed, arrogant homers just don't warrant much respect anywhere and here is no exception. When Minnesotans start having a healthier attitude toward the outside world the outside world will start to take Minnesotans seriously.

joecool1999
joecool1999

Everything in this yuppie-ism obsessed state has revolved around the suburbs and corporations since about 1960. The Twin Cities exist as a ploy to lure conventions to the state with fancy restaurants - the people of the state and its politicians mostly ignore the cities and obsess over the suburbs and Mayochester. For a purportedly "liberal" state there certainly is a love affair with corporations and fascism-style corporatism here that is WAY more than a little bit suspicious to liberals who move from the outside.

joecool1999
joecool1999

@Truth_Teller_1  You know as much about "socialism" and the Soviet Union as I know about how to build a space ship.

MicheleBachmann
MicheleBachmann topcommenter

@Truth_Teller_1  Move to South Dakota.  I'm sure you will love it.  We don't want scumbag bigots here anyway.  Losers like you contribute nothing.  It won't be tough replacing a toilet cleaning loser like you anyway. 

phux
phux

@DaveTheDopeFiend really dude, you are from the suburbs so you should stick them bro. I am from MPLS and was born here buddy. And the "improvements" to uptown are not improvements ya douche. Not to mention I talked about improving transit etc., I am a proponent of transit and very into progress, but rich dicks stealing your city out from under you isn't progress. Its theft.

phux
phux

@carnivalminds Technicality for a technicrat... you misspelled a couple things and put a comma instead of a period before "Often times..." so not sure where you get off telling me about grammar etc. More importantly I mentioned actual important issues in my *COMMENT* which is not supposed to be an article since I don't work at City Pages they would not post an article even if I wrote one. All points were cogent, so please desist from distracting.

phux
phux

@carnivalminds technicality for a technocrat? this is a comment online my friend. they don't let you write a proper article on here unless you are on staff, so we just lob out ideas. don't waste our time with technicalities. and by the way my comment lays out valid points. Oh and you have a comma where a period should be just before "Often times..." haha; and you misspelled carriage.

heterosectional1
heterosectional1

@MicheleBachmann @Truth_Teller_1 Sioux Falls, South Dakota, is a great city. They have a half mile outdoor sculptor exhibit on the sidewalks on both sides of Phillips Avenue, which is the equivalent of Mipples horseshit Mall. And you can park your car in regular old time meters on their sculptor Phillips Avenue, the main drag. Free parking after 5 P.M. 


Yes indeed, Sioux Falls is a class act. Wells Fargo is based there, not in Mipples because of low taxes and business perks.

Truth_Teller_1
Truth_Teller_1

@MicheleBachmann  Please take  your meds.   It's easily understandable you have nothing to say - so what's left but to insult people.   Truly mental case.

carnivalminds
carnivalminds

@phux Fair is fair.
Can you solve the puzzle? Why did this puplication spend 2 paragraphs on a rappers resume and his "noted comment was 1 paragraph?

"I'm not going to take that job in the suburbs." Why did you produce a child? What kind of an example are you?

 
Loading...