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Is 1 mile bike path worth 9.2 million?

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Is 1 mile bike path worth 9.2 million?

Old 02-22-09, 04:03 PM
  #26  
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So it's twice as expensive as a freeway per mile. It's only one mile. It connects thousands of peoples homes to their work and possibly downtown shopping.

I fail to see how this is a question. This area is home to 3 million people. By rough estimate (I'm using 2% because minneapolis is a bit of a cycling town and the national average is supposed to be around 1%) that makes 60,000 cyclists. Out of the 160 billion spent for roads I work out their share of the 30 percent that is not paid by user fees to be about 9.6 million dollars. So this should be the only trail project this year.
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Old 02-22-09, 04:17 PM
  #27  
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Originally Posted by AEO View Post
else you'll end up like Toronto with piss poor connections between various bike paths and trails when it has to cross a set of rails, freeways or rivers.
There's a lot of such **** segments in Quebec city's bike ways, what happens is say they'll paint a constriction lane or make a separate path on open ground where it's convenient and cheap to do so, but it's often completely useless since it's painted on roads that were already wide or or a path in the middle of nowhere with nearly no traffic... When paths reach troublesome areas where the existing structures are deficient, then the bike ways just stop existing for a few 10's or 100's of meters and start existing again past the troublesome area... How lame is that? Seems to me it would make things better for all road users if they did not use a cent on these, and instead use the money to rebuild say one or a few deficient overpasses, or segments like in op's story.
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Old 02-22-09, 04:19 PM
  #28  
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Originally Posted by pacificaslim View Post
1 mile bike path or serve 3 million meals to the needy. Hmm...
If that were the choice, you'd have a point, maybe. But the choice is between a 1-mile bike path and some other minor bit of infrastructure. It's not like the Department of Transportation gives whatever's left from their budget at the end of the year to Second Harvest.
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Old 02-22-09, 04:19 PM
  #29  
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"In these economic times, it's like, to me it's like the bridge to nowhere almost. Those costs just don't transfer over to, I think, the value that you get out of that three-block stretch."

People these days really need to learn to speak properly. They've stopped teaching that in schools.

9 million is 1/77777th of 700 billion. Sadly most people insist on thinking about money in the wrong order of magnitude. Build the bike lane because it costs peanuts.
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Old 02-22-09, 05:00 PM
  #30  
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It's hard for any of us outside the twin cities metro to know how important that "last mile" link to complete a large bike trail network might be. If it provides a safe passage for bike traffic from one area to another area of the metro, that would encourage more overall bike traffic, I would be in favor of the construction. Like many others have mentioned, this project will provide benefits for generations. Also, they just spent 300+ million on a new bridge in the TC to replace the collapsed bridge, so spending 9 million on a important missing link in an urban bike network sounds fair to me.

In my area, the city of Irvine, CA recently spent many millions building a bicycle-only overpass across the 12 or 14 lanes of interstate 405. I never use it, it requires a half mile detour, and there is a perfectly safe (with wide bike lane) surface street overpass nearby that has no freeway onramp traffic, that requires no detour.

The Irvine, CA bike trails seem to be more "recreation" oriented than to serve as "transportation routes". I think the Twin Cities project is more important from a "transportation" perspective, so it deserves funding. When I look at the countless billions being thrown out the window at banks, pathetic home loan funding, etc, I would much rather see 9 million spent on something that provides value to the public now and in the future.
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Old 02-22-09, 05:12 PM
  #31  
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If the trail is practical for commuters and utility cyclists, I'd say build it to stimulate the local economy and reduce dependence on fossil fuels. If it's mostly a recreational thing, wait until the economy is better, and then charge a user fee to pay off the bonds.
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Old 02-22-09, 05:21 PM
  #32  
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Originally Posted by crhilton View Post
So it's twice as expensive as a freeway per mile. It's only one mile. It connects thousands of peoples homes to their work and possibly downtown shopping.

I fail to see how this is a question. This area is home to 3 million people. By rough estimate (I'm using 2% because minneapolis is a bit of a cycling town and the national average is supposed to be around 1%) that makes 60,000 cyclists. Out of the 160 billion spent for roads I work out their share of the 30 percent that is not paid by user fees to be about 9.6 million dollars. So this should be the only trail project this year.
It is the land that is expensive, not the path itself. The same land used for a freeway would cost even more due to the need for it to be wider. The quote in the story about freeway cost probably was not on this same slice of land.

The irony is that no doubt cars are parked all around downtown on land that has near the same value, and motorists are probably charged no more than $2.00 an hour for the 100 square feet or so they occupy... yet no one whines about the cost of that land.

If the city wants to save money, let them remove parking spaces for motorists and use that for a bike path (if it is even possible). But no, that won't even be considered.
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Old 02-22-09, 05:30 PM
  #33  
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I'd be surprised if they go forth with the contract without requiring re-bids to lower the price. When eonomic times dictate, there's always a better and more economically feasible way of doing things. However during economically difficult times, the right thing to spend money on is infrastructure. It creates jobs during hard times and provides infrastructure that will last for decades.

I'm also a huge proponent for altering our travel insfrastructure away from automobiles where ever possible.
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Old 02-22-09, 06:05 PM
  #34  
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There is no way 1 mile of bike path is worth 9.2 million. However, this mile being the last link in a system, it is well worth that and more. Completing this last mile will increase the value of the entire system, both from a financial standpoint and a practical one.
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Old 02-22-09, 08:10 PM
  #35  
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Originally Posted by genec View Post
It is the land that is expensive, not the path itself. The same land used for a freeway would cost even more due to the need for it to be wider. The quote in the story about freeway cost probably was not on this same slice of land.
Oh I'm sure you're right. The cost on the freeway is the drainage system, the quality of the road and the size of the road. Bike paths never get this sort of treatment. In the summer we don't hydro plane anyway. In the winter we're expected to deal with the pools of ice.
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Old 02-23-09, 12:32 AM
  #36  
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In the winter I ride the Mississippi River Parkway trail for part of my commute into town. I've also taken the Cedar Lake Bikeway home when I want to get in some extra miles. These two trails are what would be connected by the proposed link. I may be able to add a little information to the discussion although in my mind it doesn't necessarily tip the scales one way or the other.

On the "For building" side:

It's important to note that this link is undoubtedly made more complicated and expensive by construction of the new Twins ballpark (which cost 540 million). I believe there were plans to extend the Cedar Lake trail that predate the siting of the stadium. Those plans had to be altered, so to me a portion of the 9.2 million should be considered part of stadium costs. The link would have been cheaper had the stadium been put somewhere else or not built at all.

The current entrance to the Cedar Lake bikeway from downtown is a joke. You've got this awesome bikeway that potentially could enable a lot of people to commute from the Western portion of Minneapolis and the Western suburbs to downtown, except that it ends in a rather obscure place at the edge of town. It took me a while to figure out how to get on the trail from downtown and I work in the area.

Looking at a map of the bike trails, it is an obvious gap. With it completed you could circumnavigate the entire southern portion of the city, along the river and around all the major lakes.


On the Con side:

I see the link as more recreational than helping commuters. I'm sure it will improve things some for commuters using the Cedar Lake trail but it won't deliver cyclists into the heart of downtown, it will only skirt the edge. There are probably better ways to spend 9.2 million if you want to promote commuting.


Overall I guess I'm in favor of building it but I would hope they take a serious look at ways to reduce the cost. It's been my opinion that Minneapolis's long history of building infrastructure for recreational cycling has also helped it in becoming a more commuter friendly city. A lot of people from the burbs come into Minneapolis on summer evenings and weekends just to ride along the lakes. If they can now ride North up to the ballpark at the edge of downtown, then Southeast along the river and finally West towards the lakes again, all without having to double back or ride in traffic, it will be a great thing. Some may even figure out that they can ride into work instead of driving. There's no doubt in my mind that this link will be well utilized.

Last edited by tjspiel; 02-23-09 at 11:31 AM.
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Old 02-23-09, 11:17 AM
  #37  
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Not familiar with the site, but it kind of seems like they're "wasting" (some of) the money they spent on all the other sections if they don't "finish" the whole thing.

Not having the final section may not negate the value of the entire path, but having it greatly increases the overall value, probably more so than any other section.

The gut reaction is that it's half-a#%ed to not finish. "Check us out, we can only do the easy parts!"
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Old 02-23-09, 11:51 AM
  #38  
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I agree with most people here that it is best to not feed the needy people.
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Old 02-23-09, 12:16 PM
  #39  
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Tispiel has given some very helpful information and perspective.

I also live in Minneapolis. The following especially catches my attention:
1. Bike plans existed to complete the path to the river along the old Cedar Lake Trail (formerly a rail right of way).
2. Then later a decision was made to build the new Twins baseball stadium along the bike route, construction being now well underway.
3. The building of the stadium has raised the price of land in the area considerably and made the bike route completion even harder. I believe the bike route might have to go under the stadium with lights, security cameras, etc.
4. It does seem that part of the increased cost of completing the bike route should have been incurred in the stadium building budget, although I doubt the stadium builders could be convinced of that at this stage of the process.

I will provide a link to a map of the downtown portion of the Minneapolis bike system. Note that the green trails are separate, off-road paths and the red ones are simply bike lanes painted on the side of the road. Also note the green bike path along the river that cannot be accessed directly from any green paths coming from the southwest side of downtown right now. Here's the link:
http://www.co.hennepin.mn.us/images/...Mpls_Inset.pdf
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Old 02-23-09, 01:44 PM
  #40  
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Originally Posted by MNBiker View Post
Tispiel has given some very helpful information and perspective.

I also live in Minneapolis. The following especially catches my attention:
1. Bike plans existed to complete the path to the river along the old Cedar Lake Trail (formerly a rail right of way).
2. Then later a decision was made to build the new Twins baseball stadium along the bike route, construction being now well underway.
3. The building of the stadium has raised the price of land in the area considerably and made the bike route completion even harder. I believe the bike route might have to go under the stadium with lights, security cameras, etc.
4. It does seem that part of the increased cost of completing the bike route should have been incurred in the stadium building budget, although I doubt the stadium builders could be convinced of that at this stage of the process.

I will provide a link to a map of the downtown portion of the Minneapolis bike system. Note that the green trails are separate, off-road paths and the red ones are simply bike lanes painted on the side of the road. Also note the green bike path along the river that cannot be accessed directly from any green paths coming from the southwest side of downtown right now. Here's the link:
http://www.co.hennepin.mn.us/images/...Mpls_Inset.pdf
Thanks for the map.

It wouldn't surprise me if at one point costs for routing the bike path around (or under) the stadium were part of the proposed stadium bill. If nothing else, I'll bet somebody at least attempted to make it part of the bill. But, being as controversial and expensive as the stadium was, those additional costs weren't gonna fly.

I thought it was just important to bring the larger context into the picture. It's easy to point a finger at a 9.2 million expenditure for a mile of bike path and call it pork. The reality is though that it would have been much less expensive and there would have been hundreds of millions that could have been set aside to feed the needy if we had not decided to build the stadium

This isn't an anti-stadium rant, just pointing things out.
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Old 02-23-09, 02:05 PM
  #41  
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As I recall the stadium is required to bear the costs of continuing through their patch in a tunnel form. The stadium makes a more compelling case for the path as well as adding to the costs and complexity. To that end, I' think it would be a great way to promote cycling: bike to the game, check your bike for free, and evade all the hassle of other means of arrival.
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Old 02-23-09, 02:57 PM
  #42  
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Originally Posted by CastIron View Post
As I recall the stadium is required to bear the costs of continuing through their patch in a tunnel form.
You may be right. Do you know if the 9.2 million figure is in addition to what the stadium plan covers or does it include that?

Originally Posted by CastIron View Post
The stadium makes a more compelling case for the path as well as adding to the costs and complexity. To that end, I' think it would be a great way to promote cycling: bike to the game, check your bike for free, and evade all the hassle of other means of arrival.
I agree that there's some definite potential wins for the city.

We do a lot of work with a software developer that works out of his rural home in the vicinity of Portland (I can't remember the actual town). He has a large family and when he travels for work he generally brings one or two kids with him. He spent a week in town a couple of years ago and asked what a fun thing he could do with his kids might be. I recommended that he head out to Lake Calhoun, rent some bikes, ride the paths for a while, go for a swim, and maybe take in a free concert at the Lake Harriet bandshell.

That's what he did and he still mentions it as one of the more fun activities he's done with his kids on a business trip. If these rent-a-bike stations become a reality, he'd now be able to rent bikes downtown and ride to Calhoun and all through the more scenic parts of the city right back downtown again. Not a quick trip mind you, but doable if you're reasonably fit and have got some time to kill.
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Old 02-23-09, 04:18 PM
  #43  
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I don't know exactly how the numbers stack up, but government accounting is a bizarre animal totally divorced from convention and reality. That $9.2m might well represent some oddball $8m sewer project tied to it for reasons unknown to most except the folks on A-23 at the Hennepin Government Center.

As to the bike share program: consider slightly more dead than the central corridor light rail project.
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Old 02-23-09, 07:57 PM
  #44  
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Originally Posted by CastIron View Post
I don't know exactly how the numbers stack up, but government accounting is a bizarre animal totally divorced from convention and reality. That $9.2m might well represent some oddball $8m sewer project tied to it for reasons unknown to most except the folks on A-23 at the Hennepin Government Center.

As to the bike share program: consider slightly more dead than the central corridor light rail project.
Your right. I just assume most of the cost is land acquisition but there could be larger more expensive problems through that corridor.
With it passing by the stadium, this could be very popular not just with current cyclists, but by bringing in new riders. Auto parking sucks and is expensive there. The light rail is a joke. Our transit system is lagging behind other major cities of similar size. In relative terms however, we 'are' bike friendly. Hope this goes through.
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Old 02-23-09, 08:20 PM
  #45  
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Until seeing that map I was hopeful this stretch would help finish my commute. I currently come up the LRT trail, which spits me into downtown on the opposite side from my office. I am left dodging cars for the last stressful mile of my otherwise pleasant commute. Extending that route, perhaps by creating a lane that is more than the usual painted stripe would likely cost far less and benefit commuters much more. The proposed 9.2m route looks largely recreational.
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Old 02-23-09, 08:53 PM
  #46  
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As others have indicated, the exhorbitant cost is a function of the way they have constructed the trail system here in "phases". On the one hand, I can see that it may not be feasible to plunk down all the cash to acquire the land and develop the trails over a year or two, but if you don't do it that way, you run the risk of this kind of thing happening where the land becomes desirable for another purpose that was not forseen at the time that the route was originally laid out. Now we're kind of stuck in either having to pay the escalating prices for the land now that the ballpark has made that area "desirable", or in having to divert the trail from what was initially envisioned.

Going back just a few years, that edge of downtown where the Cedar Lake corridor feeds in was marginal. That is where the garbage burner and all the missions and homeless shelters like Mary's Place and Sharing and Caring Hands were located because it wasn't exactly prime real estate. They could probably have purchased the land for a song if they would have just committed to it rather than doing it piecemeal. Sorta like the creeping eastern frontier of the Greenway -- someday it will actually cross the river to St. Paul as envisioned -- someday . . .
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Old 02-23-09, 09:13 PM
  #47  
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That's money that would be better spent elsewhere. But there's no reason for it to be so much. Maybe someone jacked up the price just so it wouldn't be build. Sorry for my cynicism, but something's wrong with this picture.
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Old 02-23-09, 09:48 PM
  #48  
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Originally Posted by AEO View Post
else you'll end up like Toronto with piss poor connections between various bike paths and trails when it has to cross a set of rails, freeways or rivers.

Could be worse.

Fun fact from York Region: If you are a pedestrian, there is no legal way to cross the 404 north of John Street until 19th Avenue. A stretch of about 11km.
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Old 02-24-09, 12:46 AM
  #49  
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Originally Posted by manlem01 View Post
Until seeing that map I was hopeful this stretch would help finish my commute. I currently come up the LRT trail, which spits me into downtown on the opposite side from my office. I am left dodging cars for the last stressful mile of my otherwise pleasant commute. Extending that route, perhaps by creating a lane that is more than the usual painted stripe would likely cost far less and benefit commuters much more. The proposed 9.2m route looks largely recreational.
Where's your office/workplace? If you check the map again, you'll see there is a proposed extension of the LRT trail (might be just a bike lane) to the end of the line. I don't know if that'll help you or not. I also work on the other side of town from the end of LRT trail but I'm only a couple blocks from the river. From the LRT trail I can turn right (N) onto a bike lane and follow it to the river. From there I can catch a MUP or ride the relatively quiet river road NW toward my office in the warehouse district. It might be a few blocks out of your way but probably more pleasant.

Overall my commute is pretty nice.
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Old 02-24-09, 09:04 AM
  #50  
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I'm a little late to this thread, but I wanted to put in my $.02. I'm a daily commuter on the Cedar Lake Trail, I exit at the downtown end, and ride 3 blocks on streets to my business which overlooks the new stadium, so this is really in my hood. In fact I can see the part of proposed route from my desk as I type this.

I'm not certain from the plans that the extension would contribute to my commute in any meaningful way, but I'm certain it would help others who need to bypass downtown. I can guarantee that as a recreational path and link to the river system my family and many others would use it regularily. Taking my kids through downtown to get over to the river is a dicey proposition even on a Sunday morning, so we almost never do it. I've been eagerly waiting for them to complete this section for what might be 10 years now and I believe that it is really the lynch pin for the whole system.

Is the cost too high? IF the economy was strong, I don't think anyone would even notice. But of course it isn't, and the seemingly high costs are probably due to the many factors others have pointed out. Years of delays, increasing land costs, and the stadium construction most significantly. From a layman's perspective it appears to be a very tricky section to figure out so the cost to me really doesn't seem out of line.

IMO it's an absolute must. It's an infrastructure improvement that will greatly increase the value of the system. Furthermore when I stare out my office window at a publicly financed Baseball stadium that costs more money to wire the jumbotron than it will to build this path, then I think it's really not that much money. Having dedicated bike facilites to the new stadium is wonderful PR for the city, and I truly beleive it is a good long term investment in our community. Also the longer we wait the more expensive it gets, and why not put people to work building it now?

If we don't do this it is a major fail. This IS the way I want my tax dollars spent.
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