Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Carrying Water Until The End
Or, Last Words of the Strib Before Met Council Decision

From the StarTribune:

Met Council chair Peter Bell says a search for wiggle room in the federal rules came up empty. That means the council has no choice but to act on the only affordable option identified to date: converting Washington Avenue into an auto-free, transit-and-pedestrian mall.

But to the extent possible, the Met Council should keep a door open for an 11th-hour shift to a third route option, via Dinkytown. When a tunnel was ruled out, rail through the Dinkytown trench alongside the existing rail lines and around the new stadium became university officials' preferred choice. A university-financed analysis of whether that option would meet federal requirements is expected to be completed in a few months. It's worth the wait.

Keeping that option alive while pressing ahead with the design of a Washington Avenue transit mall prolongs uncertainty for Central Corridor planners, at a time when they are understandably eager for firm decisions. But some duplication of effort in coming months is a small price to pay if it leads to a design that works for the heaviest transit user in the state, the University of Minnesota.

A strange editorial. The facts seem to be right there before the strib editorial board members, and yet they persist in the "explore the Northern option" train of thought.

You have to know when to hold 'em, and when to fold 'em. What do the U administrators possibly hope to find in the Northern option that will make it competitive as far as the federal cost and efficiency indices that the Met Council has to deal with?

It would have been better for all concerned if the University had been cooperative and made a credible effort to make the Washington Avenue route work, rather than proclaiming that this route was impossible and would lead to the end of the U, as we know it. Leadership on the part of President Bruininks could have saved much frustration and unhappiness. A no compromise junkyard dog position only serves to make us look foolish when the inevitable happens.

Later today a final decision will be made. The University can start to deal with it, freed from the distracting mirage of a tunnel or a different route. Let's take it like reasonable people and move on.

In the here and now there are other walleye to fry, i.e. a pitch to the state legislature tomorrow, coincident with the newly released state budget forecast.

Keep your eye on the ball, Bob. Avoid unnecessary distraction. Try to make a convincing argument for the university. Consider re-ordering your priorities as reality dictates. Try to learn something from this experience. Please?

(At least it is not boring around here)

Ciao, Bonzo

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