Get started, keep going

PWPG efforts were mentioned at length in a recent freelance article on a local indie blog. In a tweet thanking me, the writer referred to me as a traffic/engineering guru. Aw shucks. But really, I’m just a local resident who – whether looking out the window, walking or biking around, or driving into and out of the community – experiences first-hand our transportation problems, and decided to try and do something about it. Fortunately, there were a lot of other people concerned about the same things who helped give rise to the series of student projects (co-mentored by a “real” transportation engineer), which later led to the founding of PWPG.

As indicated in the article, around the anniversary of a tragic fatal pedestrian crash, I again felt some disappointment that more wasn’t done sooner. Shortly before the February 2014 memorial, I re-watched the narrated PowerPoint of the first project team’s May 2011 final presentation. When I saw the slide described in the article, I recall getting sort of numb with a combination of feelings. The slide displays “short-term” recommendations for relatively quick and inexpensive improvements to the very Lake St & Market Plaza intersection where the young woman was killed. Walking over to the parking lot – where two to three dozen people were gathered in concentric circles along with a TV news crew – was kind of an out-of-body experience. I chose to arrive late, stay on the periphery, and leave a bit early without talking to anyone.

Thankfully, some small improvements have been made in the area over the past year, but much more needs to be done. As mentioned in the article, I’ve been frustrated by the difficulty in getting the body of work on this PWPG web site (both the SWLRT and Lake & Excelsior tabs) seriously taken into consideration. I’m cautiously optimistic that new elected and appointed officials and the forthcoming multimodal traffic study will help. But, given the SWLRT Project Office’s continued unresponsiveness regarding the ground-level community connection at the future West Lake Station, and considering it’s been since last October that the traffic study was publicly discussed, some doubt is creeping in.

Bottom-up vs top-down; the community is the expert

Is any gov’t agency in Mpls/Metro/MN really exemplifying this type of approach? I.e., Bottom-up, community-led vs. top-down, agency/discipline led.

For example, Metro Transit’s approach to SWLRT (Green Line Extension) station design and Hennepin County’s approach to station-area planning has been quite the opposite. A huge mindset change is needed, especially for West Lake and Beltline stations. (Rather than poo-poohing placemaking principles, they need to be embraced.) Unfortunately, the experience of the last several years on this project isn’t an aberration; it’s mostly standard operating procedure across the region for large capital projects.

Post-election, cont’d

Seems like biggest takeaway from election is you might as well do stuff on the things you care about (even if polls or pundits say it’s unpopular) because re-election isn’t guaranteed. More funding for infrastructure requires increased revenues (aka taxes, user fees, etc.) from somewhere — that real people actually pay — no matter how you spin it.