Lincoln Park Multimodal Study (2016)-2

This plan identifies issues and makes recommendations to improve safety and connectivity for all modes of transportation in the Lincoln Park neighborhood of Duluth, Minnesota.

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Complete document (75 MB)

 

 

 

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Executive Summary (95 kb)

 

 

 

Document is presented here in sections (to reduce PDF size):

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Part 1 (10 MB / 22 pp)
Summary / Table of Contents /
Introduction / Stakeholder Involvement

 

 

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Part 2 (19 MB / 38 pp)
Land Uses / Demographics /
Growth Scenarios / Road Network

 

 

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Part 3 (22 MB / 27 pp)
Freight Network / Transit System

 

 

 

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Part 4 / (10 MB / 32 pp)
Active Transportation–Bicyclists and Pedestrians /
Multimodal Integration / Safety

 

 

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Part 5 (18 MB / 29 pp)
Recommendations and Appendix

Transportation Breakdown

Normally, every five or six years our elected representatives in D.C. put aside their political differences to reauthorize the nation’s transportation program — including the fuel tax, for construction of roads, bridges, transit and bike and pedestrian infrastructure, and safety programs.

This is because our economy relies on transportation, and bridges and highways are not Republican or Democrat.  Everybody needs them.

The process has broken down

On March 30, Congress managed to avoid a shutdown of the nation’s transportation system by passing an eleventh hour extension of the current SAFETEA-LU legislation. This means  that thousands of highway and infrastructure projects, here and across the nation, won’t stall out this construction season.  Until June 30th, anyway.

Funding our transportation infrastructure via nine “temporary” extensions – one stopgap measure after another, since the original SAFETEA-LU expired in September 2009- is not the way to move forward.  The process has broken down.

The reason is simple: money

The major problem is the growing inadequacy of the federal gas tax, which hasn’t been raised since 1993.  Not only are we attempting to build 21st-century infrastructure with 20th-century dollars, but also, as cars become more efficient, people need less fuel and pay less into the Highway Trust Fund.

With Congress bitterly divided, lawmakers can’t agree on where the additional funding should come from, although a number of ideas are being floated.

Legislative stalemate

For the past several months, the House attempted to gain enough support to pass a 5-year, $260 billion bill (the American Energy and Infrastructure Jobs Act) that has new revenue incorporated into it via leasing and production fees from new oil-drilling rights on federal lands and coastal waters.  This funding mechanism, although favored by nearly two-thirds of Americans (according to a poll by the United Technologies/National Journal Congressional Connection), failed to gain bipartisan support.

Another provision of the bill, which would have terminated guaranteed funding for public transit, failed to gain even Republican support in the House and as a result, the bill was doomed from the start.

The Senate alternative (MAP-21), a two-year program with a price tag of $109 billion — had bipartisan support but was not taken up by the House and is unlikely to move forward even though the clock is again ticking.

Reforms to control spending

And before asking taxpayers to pay more for roads, rail, bridges, and infrastructure, we must ensure existing funds are not wasted. Both bills include significant reforms to control federal highway spending.

Both of the Senate and House bills include provisions to make the project delivery process more efficient and both consolidate existing transportation programs by nearly two-thirds.

And many lawmakers rightly argue that states should be given more flexibility in how they can find creative ways to use federal dollars. Congress should give more encouragement to innovative approaches, including public-private partnerships that leverage private investment with public dollars.

Gas taxes or user fees are not on the table – but need to be

In the current political climate, no one in Washington is going to suggest an increase in the gas tax. Yet more revenue from that source – or from a mileage-based user fee – is an essential part of a solution.

Every transportation policymaker understands the potential long-term solutions to these near-term problems, but few are willing to push them forward because they involve difficult choices about how to raise more money for federal transportation programs.

Election-year politics

“We’ve just been caught up partially in election-year politics and partially in this whole battle that seems to trump and override our issue, which is the budget battle,” said Pete Ruane, president and CEO of the American Road & Transportation Builders Association. “That’s going to be part of this debate every single time until they finally make some tough decisions about how to fund these programs.”

Congress has now bought itself until just before the July 4 recess to come up with a final agreement on a transportation bill — or enact another extension.

Hopefully, over the next 90 days Congress will work something out and maybe by the end of the year we’ll have a long-term bill.  But it’s also likely the issue won’t be settled until after the general election in November.

Everyone agrees on the broader goals of transportation policy and spending, which are economic growth and personal mobility. A long-term solution needs to be developed in a bipartisan fashion — and spearheaded by the administration — regardless of who is in power.

Co-writing credit: Rondi Watson


Carless in Duluth

It’s no secret that we Americans are in love with our cars.

They demonstrate our status and standing in society.

The way we’ve invested in roads and highways and the way we’ve developed our cities pretty much mandates that you need to own a car to be able to access jobs, food, education and recreation.

Driving a car has become the default mode of travel for almost all people for every trip of any distance.

And here in Duluth, perched on a steep hill with prominent winters, it makes sense that people want to drive.

So why would a person choose not to?

Video documentary and panel discussion

Carless in Duluth, a video documentary about people who walk, bike, or take the bus instead of driving, will premiere on:

Tuesday, March 20, 2012
6:00 pm
Teatro Zuccone
222 East Superior Street, downtown Duluth

Following the video, there will be a panel discussion with engineers, planners, and other experts in the area.  Afterward, an informational tabling session will be held in the atrium where food and drinks will also be available.

Area bike and ped projects, and lots of them

The event, hosted by the Healthy Duluth Area Coalition, follows a series of public meetings that were hosted throughout Duluth about one month ago.  At each meeting, residents were given the opportunity to learn about ongoing and upcoming bicycle and pedestrian projects happening all over the city, including the Cross-City Trail, the Duluth Citywide Sidewalk Study, and the Duluth Traverse Mountain Bike Trail, and gave their feedback about their interest in these projects as well as other potential ideas. Over 50 residents participated in these meetings.

The Carless in Duluth premiere and transportation forum on March 20th will conclude this series of public outreach events. Organizations including the Duluth Transit Authority, the Metropolitan Interstate Council, City of Duluth Engineering, and the Bike Cave Collective have already confirmed their participation in this event, with pending confirmation from the Northern Lights Express, COGGS, and the UMD Cycling Club.

Check it out – it’s free and open to the public.

Duluth-Superior’s Harbor Technical Advisory Committee: A Model for Successful Stakeholder Participation & Coordination

Aerial view of the Ports of Duluth-Superior “A committee that actually gets work done”

The HTAC is a working group for addressing challenges and opportunities in the Duluth-Superior harbor, while promoting the port’s economic and environmental importance to both communities.

It is one of three advisory committees to the Metropolitan Interstate Council (MIC), the federally designated Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) for the Duluth-Superior urbanized area.

And it is unique–the only stakeholder group of its kind in the country.

More important, it is, in the words of former Duluth Seaway Port Authority Director Adolf Ojard, “a committee that actually gets work done.”

Complexity, Controversy and Collaboration

Port-centered issues are usually complex, often controversial and sometimes downright contentious: dredged material management; marine safety; port security; land and recreational uses; economic development proposals; accelerated corrosion of maritime infrastructure; ballast water and invasive species management; legacy environmental degradation and habitat restoration initiatives –to name a few.

None of these problems affects one group alone, and none can be addressed except through the coordinated action of many diverse organizations and individuals. The HTAC has emerged as a national model for doing just that, through planning, collaboration, information sharing and long-term institutional involvement.

Its diverse members all hold a stake in the continued success and health of the harbor. Participation on the HTAC encourages representatives from industry, government, academic, environmental, regulatory and citizen groups on both sides of the bridge to recognize that although they have distinct missions they also have shared goals.

HTAC members, in other words, are genuine stakeholders who have, over its 20-year history, learned the value of playing nice and working hard together.

Result: a new paradigm for dredge material handling

Aerial view of Erie Pier re-engineered as a PRFOne recent example of the HTAC’s successful, collaborative planning process is what’s happening at Erie Pier. It might seem a little hard to get excited about this “hidden in plain sight” facility on the Duluth waterfront—but it represents an entirely new paradigm for dredge material handling.

Thanks to the efforts of many HTAC members who undertook an intensive multi-year planning process, and to the US Army Corps of Engineers which subsequently agreed to make a significant investment in redesigning and re-engineering the facility, a major physical restructuring of the full-to-capacity Contained Disposal Facility at Erie Pier was undertaken to convert it to a Recycle-Reuse Facility.  It utilizes hydraulic sorting to separate out the clean, uncontaminated sand and silt that’s dredged from the shipping channels for reuse in large-scale projects such as road construction and landfill cover.

The Duluth Seaway Port Authority now manages Erie Pier dredge materials as a valuable, re-usable resource instead of a waste product.  By creating a cost effective and environmentally sound alternative to standard dredge material disposal practices, it will save local taxpayers the millions of dollars it would have cost to develop a new CDF.

Sincerest form of flattery

It also has the potential to change the way other Great Lakes ports manage their dredging operations.  Erie Pier has recently gained the attention of the Canadian federal government, which is looking at the Erie Pier facility as a model for a new hydraulic sorting procedure at one or more of their dredging sites.

Most port communities face similar challenges.  For this reason, we’ve been invited to present the HTAC model at many national-level planning and port conferences in recent years.

More Information/Get Involved

You can follow or participate in this notable initiative that’s happening right here in Duluth-Superior.  For more information or to get on our meeting mailing list, check out the HTAC page on the MIC website at dsmic.org/htac.

Writing credit: Andy McDonald contributed to this article.

Photo credits:
Duluth-Superior Harbor aerial view – Gary Lidholm, USDA Forest Service, Superior National Forest

Erie Pier aerial view – Google Earth 2010

Duluth Sidewalk Study

Elderly Pedestrians walking along shoulder of busy road in Duluth, MN

Why do sidewalks matter?

Did you know that it’s estimated that up to 40% of the U.S. population does not drive? This includes children, of course, but also people who are disabled, elderly or choose not to drive. Sidewalks, not roads, are the main transportation facility for a big chunk of our community.

We’ve all seen people walking in the roads, but it’s not hard to see that sidewalks provide a preferable space for pedestrian travel than using the street. Take a close look at the picture for this post – it’s one that we took several years ago of an elderly couple making a perilous winter journey (presumably out of necessity) along the shoulder of Central Entrance near Miller Hill Mall, Duluth’s main commercial district.

Besides providing a safe passageway for all to use, investing in sidewalks—infrastructure that promotes walking—has many benefits spread widely across the community.

Health

It’s not news that an increasing portion of the population, including many children, lack regular physical exercise. And walking is one of the most practical ways to increase physical activity among a broad population.

Health experts believe that more balanced transportation systems can contribute to improved personal and community health not only because they accommodate and encourage active transportation, but also because they provide opportunities for increased social interaction and, with more “eyes on the street” can reduce crime.

Wealth

A good sidewalk network, by providing “walkable” infrastructure, is strongly linked to a community’s economic vitality. According to the Seattle Department of Transportation, “walkable neighborhoods typically have active streets that promote commercial exchange, while providing safe and efficient ways for residents to travel on foot.”

Green

Sidewalks can also promote less reliance on automobiles, when walking is an option for shorter trips.

Equitable

Walking tends to be particularly important for elderly, disabled and lower-income people who have few opportunities to participate in sports or formal exercise programs and more limited transportation options.

And most trips that anyone makes have a walking component, whether it is between a parking spot and a final destination or to and from a transit stop.

That’s Where We Come In

The MIC has been working with the City of Duluth and area stakeholders on a two-phase study of Duluth sidewalks. In today’s financial climate, resources for sidewalk maintenance and development are limited. Good information is needed to utilize those scare resources efficiently. A number of citizen groups in the Duluth area, as well as city administration, have requested that sidewalk information be developed to assist with making targeted decisions about sidewalk improvements. The results of this analysis will be used to determine future capital improvements for sidewalk development, preservation, snow removal and maintenance.

The first phase—the sidewalk inventory—has been underway since last spring to develop an accurate inventory of where sidewalks are located and what condition they are in. When it’s complete, this information will be presented as a searchable GIS tool.

The second phase of the study—priority pedestrian modeling¬ will identify which sidewalks are the most heavily used, based on pedestrian generators such as schools, retail areas and transit stops. Other information considered in the model includes population density, poverty rates and transit ridership.

So, what do you think?

Negotiations on the new federal transportation bill may eliminate funding for bike and pedestrian infrastructure and dedicate it to the construction of roads and bridges only. Are sidewalks part of your personal transportation network? What ones around town do you use, or present obstacles?

Co-writing credit: Rondi Watson