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Minnesota Transit: South Metro Park and Ride Wars

Category: Transportation
Posted: 03/24/08 10:43

by Dave Mindeman

It was inevitable. Rep. Mary Liz Holberg (R-Lakeville) and Rep. Shelley Madore (D-Apple Valley) were destined to clash at some point. Well, the time has arrived.

Rep. Madore succeeded with an amendment that would force the cities of Farmington and Lakeville into becoming part of the Transit Taxing District. Nearly all of the surrounding cities already are.

Rep. Holberg said she was ?totally blind sided? by the amendment. Well, that isn't difficult because Rep. Holberg has always had "blinders" on when it comes to transportation and transit. For years, Lakeville has been kept out of the transit debate because of the refusal of Rep. Holberg to even acknowledge the need.

But in a way, her constituents have already been out front on this issue. They have voted with their parking spots.

Lakeville residents trying to save some gas money have been utilizing Apple Valley's park and ride facilities. So much so, that the lots are overcrowded and spilling onto city streets. This has caused some "competition" for space and the city of Apple Valley even went to far as to condemn a business (although it was negotiated amicably) to get more parking area.

Rep. Madore heard the complaints and decided it was time for Lakeville and Farmington to start paying their own way. Thus, the amendment.

Rep. Holberg was miffed and defended her city's policy:

Rep. Holberg argues Madore's approach is draconian, and that Lakeville residents already pay almost every transit-related tax there is. Holberg insists Lakeville resident pay nearly all the taxes that fund transit. ?They are not freeloaders,? she said.

I like the words "almost" and "nearly all". Yes, they pay nearly all of them, except the particular one that affects local transit projects the most.

In the end, Rep. Madore is doing Rep. Holberg's district a favor. As long as Lakeville stays out of the transit taxing district, the Met Council will have decisions to make:

During a discussion of the Urban Partnership Agreement (UPA) with the federal government ? $133 million in federal grant money slated to construct additional park and rides south of downtown Minneapolis, among other things ? Schetnan (Met Council Government Affairs Director) opined that Lakeville had only until May 12 to join the taxing district or lose UPA projects proposed for the city.

Lakeville could lose influence needed to make sure their transit needs are met as BRT and other mass transit options are decided for the south metro.

Rep. Holberg still believes that "transit" is the enemy...even though the people in her district are looking to transit for the alternatives needed to save on rising fuel costs.

Rep. Holberg is stubbornly holding onto the old transportation ways. But representing the people of your district requires a greater flexibility than just saying no. The park and ride war is only the beginning -- transit issues need representation. If Mary Liz Holberg won't do it, then it looks like others will.

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