Friday, December 30, 2005

Now that’s over with…oh wait.

Christmas came and now its another 365 days until the craziness starts all over again. I had a very good Christmas this year and got most of the things on my list. Visiting with both sides of the family was great. Christmas Eve, Frank and I got back from Madison and the two of us headed over to my Grandma’s house in Brooklyn Park for Roast Beef and Cranberry Cake with butter sauce. After dinner, we unwrapped some presents and then proceeded to the folks’ house where we unwrapped some more presents.

Christmas Day, we made the traditional trip to Cannon Falls Minnesota for a visit with my Grandpa F.B. and relatives on the Dad’s side of the family. It was great catching up with my uncle Bill and my aunt Karen, and enjoying some delicious Ham, Turkey, Mashed Potatoes, and some awesome Christmas Cookies for desert.

Since then I have been trying to work as much as I can at Minitex and make some money over the break. I have been having some trouble trying to get up on time for work in the morning but maybe if I started going to bed on time this wouldn’t be an issue.

I am also trying to visit with friends and take the necessary steps for my study abroad in Norway next fall. I hope I can use Frank’s presents on how to speak Norwegian and the lonely planet guide to Norway. These two books will come in handy with having to learn the language and some great places to see when I am in the country.

Spring Semester starts on the 17th of January, so I have a few weeks to get some things figured out. After New years, Kristen and I are heading up to Duluth for a small getaway for the week. We plan on doing some skiing at Spirit Mountain, a little touring of Duluth, and some general R & R. I wish we could have done something more extravagant, but being that we are only college students with not a lot of money, it is rather difficult to do anything overly extravagant. Hopefully we can do something fun and exciting for Spring Break. If anyone out there in the world of Bloggerdome or the U has any great suggestions for Spring Break other than Mexico, let me know.

That should do it for this post. Hope everyone has a safe and wonderful New Year celebration. Drink, Be Happy, Drink some more!!!

See you all in 2006


Saturday, December 24, 2005

The Road into Mordor (a.k.a. Wisconsin)

Last night Frank and I made the four-hour drive from St. Paul deep into the depths of Mordor. We traveled under the cover of nightfall and shadow created by the fog. The conditions where ideal for driving with temps above freezing and very few people on the roads. We averaged about 70 mph throughout the trip and made it to our motel outside of Madison just around midnight.

It was a really great drive jamming to the Ipod and bombing down the I-94 East with the brother. We got turned around a couple of times, but we found our way after a few well placed u-turns, plus it’s easy to find your way back to the highways in Wisconsin.

Having been in the car for that long, both Frank and I were just beat but went searching for a place to get some food and a cold brew. However, after driving around for a while and not finding anything that was open we headed back to the motel to catch some much needed sleep. Had we gone another direction or headed into downtown, we probably could have found something. I think it would be better to have the Megatron take us out and show us some of the great bars in Madison the next time we visit.

This morning we woke up early and headed out to the Megatron’s house in De Forest. Meghan’s parents were very friendly and Meghan’s relatives were also great to meet. Frank had met all these people already, but it was the first time for me. I am glad that I had the opportunity to meet the entire Austin crew. Steve and Cindy made everybody breakfast which was deliciouse, and Frank and I stayed for a while and chatted with everyone before heading out on the road around 11:45 AM.

Now it’s a little passed 2:00 PM, and we are about 100 miles from St. Paul making our way home. So far the drive has been really foggy in some places, but besides the fog driving has been pretty good. There has been a large presence of the Wisconsin State Patrol, but so far they haven’t pulled us over.

Frank and I should be home by about 4:00 PM. Then it is off to Grandma Maries house and the usual Christmas Eve festivities with our Mom’s side of the family. I hope everyone is having a wonderful Christmas Eve and that everyone got all their shopping done on time!! Drop me a line about what people have planned over the break.

Merry Christmas from the Wambach boys!!

Friday, December 23, 2005

Holy Holidazzle Kristen!!!

This evening, Kristen and I took a packed train from the Franklin Avenue Station to the Nicollet Mall station in downtown Minneapolis for the annual Holidazzle parade. Before the parade, we had a nice walk from the station to Pings on South Nicollet Avenue. Along the way, we passed the WCCO News station and waved at the Anchors during their commercial break, they waved back smiling. Kristen said they waved back because I had a hot girlfriend.

Dinner was fantastic. We started out the meal with their szechuan wontons. They were stuffed with chicken instead of the usual cream cheese variety and were not as heavily deep fat fried as wontons from other Chinese eateries. For the main course, we had their signature walnut shrimp dish. It was the perfect amount of food for the two of us.

With our bellies full, we quickly headed back up the Nicollet Mall and found a spot to watch the parade. It was the perfect night for a parade, not too cold, not too windy. The weather was very cooperative. All day today the temperature was above 30 at least and the wind only picked up a little at the start of the parade. The parade itself was predictable but enjoyable. It would have been more fun if at the end of the parade fireworks or laser lights would shoot out of the IDS tower or the top of the 226 South Sixth Tower. This would make our holiday celebration comparable to Times Square at New Years at least in excitement.

With Saint Nick himself ending the parade, Kristen and I made our way to the downtown Marshall Fields to check out the 8th floor display of Cinderella or possibly do some shopping before heading back to the station and Kristen’s apartment. On our way to Marshall Fields, we passed a bunch of young kids standing on a statue watching the parade. At the same time, Santa’s float was keeping pace with us and as we passed the group of kids we heard one of them shout out, “Nobody likes you Santa!!” Both Kristen and I had to do a double take and I swear I saw a kid standing next to the unbeliever with his mouth hanging open. How can kids hate Santa?? Everybody loves Santa!!

Either way, we made it to Marshall Fields and started heading up the escalators towards the 8th floor. We got to the 4th floor when we noticed the huge line for this display and decided to bail out and not wait. The two of us decided to head down to the lower level and look for some dessert and possible ideas for last minute Christmas presents. However, the Ku and I didn’t last very long in Marshall Fields. The price for their ice cream was way overpriced for their selection of flavors and the amount of their servings. You can get a way better deal on ice cream and have better quality at places like Cold Stone or the Grand Old Creamery on Grand Avenue. Plus, Marshall Fields was way to crowded with kids running wild and parents in need of a drink.

We headed towards the Nicollet Mall LRT station to catch a train back to Franklin Avenue and Kristen’s apartment. The Southbound platform was packed with people. The train overshot us and we were forced to run to the front of the back train, which filled very quickly with parade attendees, parents with strollers and little children, and regular LRT riders. As you can see from this photo below, the train was quite filled.

Kristen and I made it back to Kristen’s apartment after a quick walk down Franklin Avenue. We snuggled for a while and Frank picked me up later. Tomorrow Kristen is venturing out to the MOA to do her Christmas Shopping. I wish her the best of luck in finding presents for everyone. I will also be doing some last minute shopping myself but more importantly sleeping in because NO WORK TOMORROW!!!! Minitex offices at the University of Minnesota are closed tomorrow and the 26th of December.

Tomorrow night, Franky J (my brother) and I are heading out to Wisconsin to visit Meghan and her family. Megatron’s (her nickname) birthday is Christmas Eve and Frank thought it would be great to visit her and her family on her Birthday.

Kristen and I will have our Christmas on the 26th. I am looking forward to the holiday with all the food, family, and presents. The adventure with Frank should be fun; it has been a while since the two of us have had a road trip together.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays Bloggerdome.

I hope you were all good this year, because as the saying goes: “Santa Claus is coming to town!!!”

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

5 days till Christmas…It’s practically here

Well, with finals over for most of the students at the University of Minnesota we all begin checking One Stop for the latest update on our grades. So far I am sitting at a running total of 2 B’s, a B+, and an A for the CSL credit in Geog 3371.

I was surprised by the B+ that I received in Geog 3561 Principles of G.I.S. This class was one of the toughest classes that I had this semester in terms of theory and sheer amount of information. The labs pulled me out of the fire in this class and where very intuitive and informative. The best lab was the lab on Georeferencing areas of downtown Minneapolis and fixing the alignment of the Hiawatha light rail line and producing a map of the alignment. The task required using a layer of roads and then Georeferencing these roads on top of a layer of an image acquired from either a satellite image or aerial photograph. We matched the intersections assigned to us using Google Maps and attempted to get the least amount of errors in our referencing. Our reference points attempted to match areas that had been ground truthed by professionals with a GPS in the field. This was a task that our professor told our class that we would be doing the most of.

As for the two B’s I received, these were both Roger Miller’s courses Geog 3371 “Cities, Citizens, and Communities” and Geog 3605 “Perspectives on Planning”. These classes started out a little rocky with some pretty tough assignments. The CBD mapping was tough because of the mapping element, having never taken a cartography class and unsure about how to show density. Maybe I should have argued on the score of my district map but didn’t feel like arguing with the incompetent TA’s of geog 3371. Right after the mapping exercise the first set of study questions were due. In perspectives the first exam didn’t go very well either. Oh well, the projects in both of the classes were helpful and I hope to stay involved with both the Central Corridor LRT and the Midtown Greenway.

The class that I am waiting in fear of is Statistics. As most of you know, I had my last exam on Saturday with Statistics. I felt that the exam went ok for the most part and I am hoping for a C in the class…Just as long as I pass.

After my exam, I ventured over to the Coffman Student Union Bookstore and sold three of my textbooks for about $100 bucks. This will help with the ski rental and cost of lift tickets for the KU and I’s trip to Duluth for a few days in early January. Plus it never hurts to have spare cash lying around in case of an emergency.

Saturday night featured an evening of eating way too much delicious food with the family including Ham, baked beans, and a fabulous batch of potatoes made by my Aunt Anna. After dining and visiting with the Fam, I swung by Kristen’s place and the two of us saw King Kong over at Har Mar in Roseville. King Kong was incredibly action packed and suspenseful but rather on the long side, in my opinion. There were also some pretty scary moments especially when the crew is being eaten by insects limb by limb or swallowed by these worm things. Other unimportant crewmembers are either crushed by stampeding dinosaurs, eaten by dinosaurs and insects, or having their heads being bitten off by King Kong. The best scene was the battle between the T-Rex’s or the Lizard King and King Kong. Near the end of the movie, we see that Kong is the only surviving member of his kind from all of the other ape bones that are in his cave. It would have been cool to possibly hear or find out what happened to the rest of his kind.

Last night, Frank, Pete, and I saw the Chronicles of Narnia over at the UA Pavilion in Roseville. Despite the hype surrounding Narnia, the three of us found it rather disappointing. The thing that ruined it for me were the actors who played the children. They were constantly whining and yelling at each other over worthless stuff. Another thing that bothered me was Liam Niesson as the voice of Aslan the Lion. What movie isn’t this guy in??? If he isn’t helping out Bruce Wayne in “Batman Begins”, he is fighting the crusades in “Kingdom of Heaven”, and if he isn’t doing that he is a freaking Jedi Master in “Star Wars Episode 1”.

5 days to go, still shopping to do and work to attend. I need to be up early tomorrow so I can make it to work on time and then get home on time too. Hopefully I can grab dinner with Kristen who has the day off tomorrow and possibly catch up on some leisure reading at Espresso Royal or Expose while the KU studies for her last exam.

Looking forward to Christmas can’t wait!!!!

Goodnight Bloggerdome


Friday, December 16, 2005

To do in the next 24 hours:

This is a to-do list of the things I need to do in the next 24 hours of the semester.

1. Study for statistics final: I have been doing this all day. I feel like I can’t go on anymore. Statistics was the worst class I had this semester. I think I felt this way about Statistics because this was the third stats class that I had in a row. Starting with 1001, 3011, and finally ending at 3022. Each time I had a different professor, a different textbook, and of course similar theories but taught in different styles. My first run with stats was with a professor from Italy, the second professor was from Russia (I think), and the third was from somewhere in Asia. I need to work on creating my formulas sheet for the final

2. Sell back some textbooks at the student union. I have some books that I have been meaning to sell back since the end of fall Semester 04. Plus I could use some small cash around this time of year. This is something I am going to do immediately after my exam. Can u all guess what book is being sold back first???

3. Go to bed, I am going to try to be in bed by 11:30 if not midnight tonight. My exam is at 10:30 AM tomorrow and I would like to get a goodnight sleep so that I am well rested for the exam.

4. Take a shower. Hygiene is very important in the motivation to studying, and a nice run through a hot shower just might be the thing I need to get the blood flowing and the neurons firing inside that pressed and perplexed brain of mine.

5. Finally, wake up on time tomorrow morning. It would be pretty embarrassing if I missed my exam tomorrow because I didn’t wake up.

That should do it for the list. I changed a few things for those who read my blog. Thought I would add a description on the purpose of this blog, and I also changed the profile picture to a pic of Kristen and I from Meghan H’s 21st birthday.

I hope everyone is surviving the rush of finals and hasn’t thought about tossing themselves off of a bridge, I know I have. Then again, that water looks pretty damn cold. Wish me luck on the stats final, I am going to need it.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

There are some mad people in St. Paul

The issue: property taxes all over the state are rising. The heaviest is in the Metro area and St. Paul residents are furious. As they should be, after receiving notice of double digit increases in the property taxes of Ramsey County. Tuesday night I attended a “Truth in Taxation” hearing presented by some of the major political players of Ramsey County. In attendance: members of the Ramsey County School Board, members of the Ramsey County Regional Rail Authority, and Mayor Randy Kelly.

These stakeholders presented the budgets for the public school system, Ramsey County, and the city of St. Paul. Afterwards, the meeting was opened to the public for commentary. Everyone was allowed to speak and everyone was allowed 2-minutes. I attended the meeting for two purposes (1) to learn how the funding of transportation will affect property taxes and how the city plans to fund projects such as the Central Corridor and the Union Depot and (2) as a resident of Ramsey County living in Falcon Heights it is interesting to see the property taxes of surrounding neighborhoods and the public opinion on taxes and the accountability of politicians.

There were many residents who voiced their opposition to these higher taxes, although they understood why they are occurring. Many areas in the United States are experiencing the fiscal squeeze, particularly in Minnesota where we have a Republican Governor that has vowed to keep a “No New Tax” pledge to please his lapdogs at the “Tax Payers League of Minnesota” and the rest of the Neo-cons who have hi-jacked the country at the start of the new millennium This is in keeping with the national trend of removing state and federal programs and forcing local municipalities and counties to bare the cost of providing basic services and funding higher education. So while I understand that people were upset about their taxes going up, they were complaining to the wrong people. Many of them should have contacted Governor Pawlenty and our state senators telling them how these no new tax pledges are hurting our cities and forcing residents from their homes due to rising property taxes that cities are raising to close the gap.

As I mentioned, I attended the meeting in the hopes of learning more information on transit funding for St. Paul. By attending the meeting, I learned that a transit levy is the latest proposal for funding of transit improvements in St. Paul. I had thought that the county had suggested the use of dedicated 1/2 cent sales tax to transit funding. As many know, much of the highways and road networks are heavily subsidized by the federal, state, and local governments. How can transit get a piece of this economic pie? By following the example of cities such as Denver, Phoenix, and Portland who all have major transit investment underway through dedicated sales taxes, we can join the cities reinvesting in their older neighborhoods and planning for new residents.

I am going to try and cut this short so that it does not become a rant. However, if St. Paul does not figure out how to get LRT or some sort of new transit on Univrsity Avenue and the necessary improvements to the Union Depot, it will be much harder and much more expensive to build the transitways envisioned by the Metro Council for 2030, it may be 2050 or even 2060 if we are lucky based on current trends.

Let’s capitalize on the success of Hiawatha and get this done for the state, for St. Paul and its residents.

Thank you

Andrew Wambach

Thursday, December 08, 2005

The final stretch

Next week will mark the end of classes for the University of Minnesota and the end of the fall semester for my third year here at the U. I, like many other students, cannot wait for Winter Break and the potential of spring semester. This weekend will be the final push. Tuesday the 13th will be the worst day with two presentations both in Geography courses but different topics. One will be on the Central Corridor and the work I did with Transit for Livable Communities and the other will be on the Midtown Greenway project in Minneapolis that I studied for my perspectives on planning course.
So far I have had a pretty good week. The week started out with a rush to finish the CSL journals and the individual paper for the CSL project. My journals ended up having a length of about 19 pages, while the individual paper ranked in at 5 pages. The final project was all due at the beginning of class on Tuesday. I spent the better part of Monday night frantically putting the finishing touches on the reports and then heading to bed around 3:00 AM. This has become my falling asleep time, though if you look at the post time, it will read 4:30 Am by the time I am done. Tuesday I handed in my project, however, my group member had not finished his journals or his individual paper on time, however, it seemed that a lot of people hadn’t finished there projects on time. What a disorganized class. I swear the TA’s in 3371 haven’t a clue to what is going on. Judy knows her stuff I will giver that, but the other TA I am not even going to talk about because he may read this (unlikely but still) and I don’t want to upset anybody.
I also had an exam on Tuesday in my perspectives on planning course and I feel that it went pretty well for not having any of the questions that I prepared for on the exam. However, some of the material that I had covered related to the questions that were asked, and so I did my best to answer the questions with the material I had.
I missed LOST tonight, hopefully I can get a chance to watch it tomorrow night, and lord knows there is nothing on TV Thursday nights.
Hopefully I will have a chance to have some fun this weekend, though prospects look grim with work still to be done on presentations and rehearing them as well as requirements in statistics. I just hope that I pass that class, the stuff they have us doing with this Rweb programming makes no sense and would be much nicer if we were using programs such as SPSS that all involve drop down menus or even Excel. But no, instead we are to learn programming code from a TA who rattles them off a million miles per hour and is surprised when we ask him to repeat stuff.
I swear, I am never taking another stats class after this one, anything else I need they will have to teach me on the job or I will teach myself. I am debating about learning how to master Excel and possibly teach myself the program over the summer.
Since it is winter, it would sure be nice if it snowed more often. Sure its freaking cold out, but that just means it gets really cold at night (currently 9 degrees outside and 59 inside) and only to about 30 degrees during the day, wait not even that, today the high was somewhere in the teens.
Now I am just rambling, time to get this blog posted.

Good luck to everyone on their projects and finals next week


Monday, December 05, 2005

where did my blog go

This is a test to see if my blog comes back up. Let's see what happens.

Monday, November 28, 2005

So what do you want for Christmas?

The Holiday season is finally upon us. The adventure in consumerism began, as usual, the day after Thanksgiving. I myself did not partake in the frenzy of holiday shopping, however, I did enjoy the extended weekend. Having a 4-day break from the University of Minnesota was much needed.
Thanksgiving was great. This was the first Thanksgiving that the Kristen and I got to enjoy together and Kristen’s first holiday with the Wambach clan. I hope she had a great time and that us Wambach’s weren’t too intimidating. For dinner we had a 22-pound Turkey, a 19-pound Ham( I think), Stuffing, and several kinds of mashed potatoes. For desert we enjoyed both Pumpkin and Pecan Pie.
Friday Frank and I ran a few errands, and the three of us made Pancakes and Bacon for brunch. Kristen and I took care of the bacon while frank made his signature buttermilk pancake recipe. While we ate, we all caught up on episodes of our favorite show LOST on ABC. Kristen does not own a TV at her apartment and hasn’t been able to watch any of the episodes on live TV. She is only able to watch the episodes when she comes over to our place. Speaking of TV, this fall has been pretty decent. With the Amazing Race Family Edition on Tuesday nights, and Lost on Wednesday nights things are pretty good. However, my favorite show Battlestar Galactica on SCI-FI doesn’t begin airing again until January. Fortunately, Season 2 will be released just before Christmas.
Suffice to say the rest of the weekend was very relaxing and enjoyable. I was able to get some work done, though not as much as I could have. This weekend I also made my Christmas list. I had been putting it off as of late, because I wasn’t really sure on what I want. It’s funny how your list of things for Christmas changes as you age. When I was younger all I wanted were toys or video games. Now that I am older I find myself asking for things I really need. For example, more dress socks. Clothes and Kitchen stuff. These are things that I thought I would never ask for when I was younger. I also notice that the price of gifts goes up as you get older
I think I made a pretty solid list of things that I need and a few of the extravagant things that I would like to have. I hope that the final stretch of the semester goes well. Things are getting pretty stressful in the terms of deadlines on projects and exams. I am a little worried about Statistics but should be able to pass. I am excited to show Transit for Livable Communities the Power Point presentation I have been working on regarding the Central Corridor for class. I am also pleased with the work I did for my individual paper in Geography 3605 on the Midtown Greenway and I hope I get a good grade on it. Because in that class, I need it.
To close, I ask my readers, if there are any out there anymore…What do you want for Christmas? That new Ipod Nano? The latest Family Guy DVD? An Armadillo? Anything and everything let me know. It would be nice to here what is going on in the world of Bloggerdome

Until next time,

P.S Happy Shopping out there.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Screw it, build more highways, I give up

This afternoon, I was excited; I was all set to go to my first Central Corridor Coordinating Meeting at the Brownstone building from 3:30PM to 5:30 PM. Last night I had worked feverishly to finish my GIS lab so that I could make it to the meeting instead of going to my lab section. I even endured the bus ride from campus to find the damn brownstone building. Guess what happened when I got there, you guessed it, they canceled the meeting!!! Now I should have seen this coming, all through the summer and fall the Central Corridor Coordinating Committee (CCCC) had been canceling meetings one right after the other. I had already sent an angry email to Steve Morris on a previous occasion and it had absolutely no affect so I am not going to do that now.

Instead I suggest just building highways. That’s my recommendation to TLC. Stop advocating for LRT in the Central Corridor. Build a huge bypass over University Avenue, an elevated highway similar to the double decker highways found in California or the Nimitz Highway on the island of Oahu. The Central Corridor Coordinating Committee canceled the meeting without even telling anybody, they didn’t even make a note of it on their website. I think it’s pretty embarrassing when an organization can not capitalize on momentum and even keep the diehards (such as myself) interested in a project.

The momentum I am referring to is the ever increasing success of Minnesota’s first LRT system the Hiawatha line. If the Ramsey County Regional Railroad Authority (RCRRA) and the Central Corridor Coordinating Committee (CCCC) can’t keep people interested in the project and having the public not wanting to attend their meetings because they know they are going to be canceled, how do they expect anyone to take them seriously? If these organizations continue to keep the public uniformed about their meetings and when they will be held, if they will be held at all, people will continue to lose interest in projects such as the Central Corridor, and the Twin Cities will never have their transit system.

I am sorry to buy into the rest of the “can’t do” that America is facing right now. It seems we can’t win the war in Iraq, we can’t fight terrorists, we can’t properly fund education, we can’t build a stadium for the University of Minnesota Gopher Football team, and we can’t fund transportation. Instead we are cutting everywhere and making sacrifices.

I hope that the people in charge of the RCRRA, the CCCC and the Metropolitan Council all wake up soon and hear the sound of transit federal dollars heading to other cities and the business community that follows those dollars out of this state to areas with less congestion problems as well as residents that might have lived, worked, and raised their children in the Twin Cities. If we don’t act, we will lose all of these to other cities like Denver, Vancouver, Portland and other transit oriented cities.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Frustrations with Urban Planning

A few weeks ago I was thinking about the Central Corridor, the post that everyone thought was way too long, and how the project will be measured in terms of success. The factors of success are: ridership, private market response, effects on both ethnic communities and lower income neighborhoods, issues regarding traffic along University Avenue that may or not be a priority.

The first measurement will be the amount of ridership Metro Transit records in the first couple of weeks and months after the project is finished. Ridership is a very important justification to both Metro Transit and to the Metropolitan Council- the regional authority of the Twin Cities Metro. However, ridership will not be a justification to residents or business stake holders. Here is a description of the route provided by the Metropolitan Council’s website:

Central Corridor: This is the primary east-west transportation route between downtown Minneapolis, the University of Minnesota and downtown St. Paul. The Alternatives Analysis/Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) is being finalized. Two build alternatives are being considered, BRT and LRT. Selection of the locally preferred alternative is anticipated by the end of 2004. The next step is to complete preliminary engineering and final EIS.

The amount of Private Market Response. This might be the most important measure of success by both the region and local economies and residents. The private market includes the existing businesses including some owned by Southeast Asian and African American business owners and sites along the University Avenue Corridor that could be improved for both commercial and residential development or the popular term in the urban studies field “Mixed Use” which is often associated with another development term Transit Oriented Development or T.O.D. This is where the Metropolitan Council and the city of St. Paul will have to show their authority to get the kind of “picture” that they want of University Avenue: higher densities, more pedestrian traffic, less auto oriented development, and more housing (both expensive and affordable). If the Central Corridor LRT is shown as “profitable” then it will more likely attract business owners and strengthen current businesses already located in the corridor. People need to see how they can benefit from having the LRT near a development be it commercial or residential and in the long run how the value of their properties can potentially increase. One thing to be carefull about is the length of construction time for the project, it would look very bad if a business owner is forced to close due to construction.

The effect on ethnic communities. This is another important issue. The Central Corridor goes right thru some of the poorest areas of St. Paul and areas that have a negative view of Government Planning, especially with transportation. The neighborhood that I am referring to is/was the Rhondo neighborhood which in the 1950’s was raised and I-94 was built straight thru it, displacing many African American residents. This was another travesty of the Urban Revitalization programs associated with American Cities during the 1950’s and 1960’s where many Ethnic communities where raised or displaced by Federal programs with the creation of the interstate program. Ever since the highway was built, this area has been very anti development of any kind or at least very fearful of government projects. As planners, we need to make sure that these residents, whom often feel left out of the process, are heavily included or else this project will fail utterly, especially if any person from that background is displaced by new forms of development. However, controlling development will be difficult but the city of St. Paul should be able to keep development on University Avenue alone at first with home owners and neighborhoods experiencing the gains in property values often associated with new Transportation projects, especially LRT. I say that controlling development is difficult because the bottom line is that if a developer wants a property and is willing to pay lots of money for it; 9 out of 10 times the city will give the developer the property and let them do whatever they want with it.

Issues regarding traffic. This may or may not be an issue in the long run, however, drivers will need a while to adjust to LRVs (Light Rail Vehicles) operating along the medians of University Avenue. This may include new signaling involved with left turns, and signaling priorities for LRVs over cars. At some of the busiest intersections we may see some accidents. Studies should be done where LRVs operate with traffic to see if an alternative such as an elevated guide way would be necessary or if the LRVS can operate safely on street level or at grade. University Avenue is still a major truck route yet is wide enough (120 ft. across) to support all the needs of existing traffic and added LRT gauge rail down the medians.

Finally, the success of the Central Corridor will rely on the completion/construction of other major transitways such as the Northstar Commuter Rail, the Red Rock Commuter Line, and other transit projects. However, with an estimated completion time of 2010 or 2012 for Central Corridor, hopefully Northstar can be finished and operating giving more incentive to the project to connect to the developing system.

Thank you for indulging another transportation related post. But hey, who said Urban Planning was going to be easy? It is definetly tougher than doing it yourself in Sim City.


Thursday, November 03, 2005

This one goes out to the KU:

Me and The Hassle at Meghan H's 21 first Bday Party

Kristen, also known as the Hassle from Dassel, is probably one of the greatest girls in the state of Minnesota if not the entire country. Why one might ask?? Well for starters she is dating me (I know huge ego right here). Besides that fact, this girl is smart, cute, funny, very attractive, and at the core as goofy as I am. When the two of us first started dating, it was my Dad and my brother Frank who noticed how good we were for each other by the way we acted around each other, especially in how we told stories. Before Kristen and I could even get to the punch line or funny part of the story we were already rolling on the floor cackling like mad men.

Another feature is the amount of hard work this girl does. She is a full time student and works as many hours as she can at the grad school. This summer, the Ku and I were working at the State Fair. Kristen worked both in the morning for the Employment Center and in the evening at the Adventure Park Ticket Sales with me until Midnight for every day of the fair. Now that’s tough. Plus with all the hours and amount of work that she had to do, at the end of the day she still had to put up with me, and I’m as much of a hassle as she is. This girls work ethic is one of the things I find very desirable, she doesn’t quit under pressure and comes thru in the clutch.

The reason I am writing this, is to let Kristen know how much I love her. Many times I have said to my friends and family “I am going to marry that girl someday”. The truth is, I really mean it. It’s really hard to not see her everyday. It was nice during the summer, when we were working together and we were living relatively close to each other. Unfortunately with the pressures of schools of due dates and exams and neither of us having access to reliable transportation, we are not able to see each other as much as we used to. At sometimes it has almost torn us apart trying to coup with the fact that we are relatively not that far in terms of distance yet not able to see each other. However, I feel that this challenge has been good for us and that if we can survive this then we become even closer in our relationship.

Kristen and I have been together for 1 year and 7 months (November 4th!!), and I couldn’t be happier. Thank you Kristen for loving me, and allowing me to love you.

To quote Stevie Wonder: “Signed, Sealed, Delivered, I am yours!!”

BTW- Our song is “I want to hold your hand” by the Beatles, I’ll have to save the origin tale for another night.
Good night Ladies and Gentleman, and to the KU See you in Dreamland!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Time to invest in some traps…

Tonight I killed my second mouse. I heard the signature sound of a mouse scratching on the screen and knew immediately that something was up. So without hesitation I began searching the four windows in my bedroom and sure enough I found one attempting to climb its way in just as the other one had a few weeks ago only in a different window. Having located the mouse, I grabbed my trusty fireplace shovel and flashlight, threw on my hoody and headed outside to deliver the killer blow.

This mouse was an almost exact copy of the mouse I killed a few weeks ago. This suggests that we have a nest on our hands or the potential establishment of a nest in progress at the house on Lindig. The next time I am at Target I will have to invest in some mouse traps and put them around my bedroom windows. I think I should bait them with Peanut Butter, but Cheese works great as well. If anybody has any suggestions for baiting mice I would be glad to hear some. This isn’t very surprising really, as the temperature gets colder the mice are going to double their efforts to come inside and snuggle up with us where it is nice and warm and they have an unlimited food supply at their disposal. This is where I come in, to thwart their advances.

I should probably call my land lady about the screen which still needs to be fixed due to the last mouse. Oh well, two mice down, unknown numbers to go.

Until next time,
Good Night


Wednesday, October 26, 2005


Today, October 26, 2005, I Andrew Wambach, officially become a legal adult around 8 AM (the time I was born). It has taken 21 years to get this far and now I can finally join the rest of the adult world and finally order a beer at a restaurant. The activities of the day inlcude going to class and work at the minitex followed by dinner with the folks, roommates, and girlfriend at Vescious, my favorite italian eatery in Dinkytown Minneapolis.
Afterwards the bro, Franky J, and the roommates are takeing me out for a night on the town to check out some of the great bars that the Twin Cities has to offer. Although I am not entirely sure where we are going, I can assure you that it will be a great time. For those potentially worried about my well being, i don't plan on getting so wasted that I pass out and die or through myself off a bridge. I know people have been concerned about people turning 21 and over drinking, but I am not that kind of drinker. This will sound cliched, but I think I can handle my liquor pretty well. Those German genes come in handy after all.
Anyway, I'll be sure to make another post thursday morning (the day after) to let all the readers how the night went.

To quote a song by Something Corporate, "I'm 21 and invincible".

Laters yall and see you at the that sounds lame (oh well) :)


Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Hibernation season starts early for the Caboose

Sleeping Drew -photo taken by the KU

Right around October, the seasons begin to change drastically in Minnesota. Fortunately we have had a beautiful fall so far with warm temperatures and not too many days of rain. There were a few storms near the end of September that caused some trouble but so far things have been pretty pleasant. Cool temperatures at night ranging in the low 40’s make for great sleeping weather and “hunkering down” underneath the covers or cuddling closer to a significant other when they accidentally kick off the covers (sorry about that Kristen).

Around this time, people begin to notice changes in their Circadian Rhythm or what is known as the “Biological clock”. It is a process in your mind/body that wakes you up at the same time every morning or if your unlucky every night at 4 AM and won’t allow you to go back to sleep. For me, I notice the natural instincts of sleeping in and hibernating begin to take hold right about now.

Take for example this morning. Last night I went to bed around midnight (my usual time) and was out like a light after doing some light reading. In anticipation for the morning, I set my alarms with the hopes of getting up and heading into campus early to catch up on some important reading for classes.However, nature or my body it seems had other plans.

This morning I woke up at about 6:45/7:00 AM, physically got out of bed, walked over to the bottom of the stairs and stopped. I remember thinking to myself, “It’s still dark out, screw this I am going back to bed.” The problem is I did just that!!! Instead of getting dressed and ready for the day I went back to dreamland.

Now I have to admit, that bed of mine is very comfortable, and when it is cold in the morning and still dark out, it calls to me saying “don’t you want to spend a few more minutes with me?” Like the smell of fresh cookies will draw you to the kitchen, the warmth of the covers and the softness of the sheets pulls you in only to latter face the hard reality that when you look at the clock it reads 9:23 AM, not 7:23, not 8:23, but “oh god no not 9:23" and “I am so going to be late for my class” AM.

I like to refer to oversleeping as my own personal version of hibernation. Though the true trophy on resembling animals in their hibernation practices has to go to my roommate Kevin who from most of the time that I have known him can sleep until 1, 2, at the latest 3 PM.

I know this does not excuse me being late for class, but humans need their sleep. That’s one of the reasons why I some day hope to never have class on a Friday or never have to do anything with my Fridays or at least be able to sleep until 10.

If I was to be an animal in my next life, I would choose to be one of two. The first choice would be a bear. How cool would it to be a bear living in the forest, eating berries, wrestling with other bears, spreading my bear seed with female bears for the betterment of the gene pool, mauling the occasional woodsman who gets to close to the cubs or my cave, and then like Yogi stealing the occasional Picnic baskets from unsuspecting campers.
The other choice would be a house cat named Henry. I could lie around all day or go exploring in the house of my owners looking for mice to kill and other forms of prey to show that I can contribute around the house. Mostly the thought of being petted and massaged doesn’t sound like such a bad life.

On second thought, the bear is still the coolest one that I have come up with in a while and if souls truly do transcend space, time, species, etc, I would like to come back as a Grizzly Bear living in the wild.

What kind of animal would you want to be in a next life? And if you could, would you hibernate?? You know I would.

Think about it, and drop me a comment

Until next time

Andrew, or should I say Boo-Boo
“Hey Boo-Boo, I am smarter than the average bear!” –Yogi Bear

Monday, October 17, 2005

Minnesota…tough place to be a sports fan

I swear we are cursed. Whenever any one of our teams in the state; be it private, public, professional, or college doesn’t matter, is just getting good and has the chance of being champions or the best in the country, something happens that messes it all up.

Ultimately we choke. Pure and simple.

No matter what sport it is, our teams find new ways to lose. The Vikings are overrated and this is not a rant about them. The Twins, an ok baseball team, but I hate baseball so I am not going to give them the light of day.

The team that I am talking about is the Minnesota Gophers or the goof-ers as we called them this weekend after the close loss to Wisconsin in the final minutes of the game. Minnesota’s punter fumbled the snapp and tried to punt the ball, which was battered down and recovered for a Wisconsin touchdown with no time for the Gophers to come back.

The Wisconsin fans were their usual creed saying “Sucks to be a Minnesota fan today, huh??” It may have been tough to be a Minnesota fan on this day, but none of us Minnesotans had to make the drive down I-94 to “where are you from?? Oh that’s right, WISCONSIN”, be it Madison, Milwaukee, or whatever bum-fuck part of that state you are from (pardon my French I am a little upset over the loss still). This was a border battle, and that's why I am being harsh on the Wisconsinites. Often we can be nice and polite to each other, but not during football season especially when we play against each other at the dome. It would be no different showing up to watch a game at Camp Randall as a Minnesota fan. This is the event where things become hostile between our two states. On the bright side, our states are better than the Dakotas and of course we both get to participate in the "Who Hates Iowa, We hate Iowa".

On th other hand, Wisconsin did have some help from the officials. Minnesota had at least two touchdowns taken back because of penalties, holding of course, which if you look carefully is in every single play of football to a degree. A number of other calls where questionable as well. The point is we didn’t get outplayed, Minnesota made some bad decisions in the final minutes of the game. Laurence Maroney who ran for 258 yards contributing to Minnesota’s 510 yards total (compared to Wisconsin who only had 366 yards total) was unstopable and Gary Russell, who had almost 140 yards rushing and two touchdowns, was a force as well. I do have to give the Sconies some credit in that Stocco had a hell of a game with third down conversions due to the lack of a pass rush on the part of the Minnesota defense.

Here is the problem, Glenn Mason played “not to lose”, when he should have played “TO WIN”. Mason redeemed himself last week by defeating Michigan at Michigan by putting faith in Russell who later broke a 61 yard run to put Minnesota in prime field goal position to win the game. Why didn’t he do it this time? Where was the gutsy call to get us the three yards and the first down to run out the clock and all the Minnesota fans get to brag and Minnesota has a chance at a Big Time bowl? What would have been even better than getting the first down, would have been the kicker recovering the ball from the fumble and then falling in the end zone for a safety.

But oh well, we choked, and that happens. And we lost to Wisconsin that happens too. On the flip side, we have the opportunity to play them again next season and get our revenge. Minnesota and Wisconsin have one of the oldest rivalries in college football, and that is something to be excited, not angry, about. It just would have been really nice to have the jug and the axe back in the trophy case. I guess we'll have to settle on the jug.

Thanks for indulging the rant,


Thursday, October 13, 2005

Drew Victory, Mouse=Death

I am betting most of you have already figured out by the title of this post that I was able to kill the little bastard. Somehow last night I was able to get some sleep (only two hours) and when my alarms started going off, who did I see in my window crawling around like he owned the place?? You guessed it! That little punk mouse. This was when I decided that he had to go; the little fucker had already chewed up my screen seven ways from Sunday with about 8 chew/crawl holes that he had created throughout the night. I don’t know what time he got started, but boy he was determined even though it wasn’t going to get him anywhere because the window into the house was still shut.

With that I ate some breakfast and readied for battle. I threw on my trusty shoes and a shirt and trudged out to the backyard through the back porch. I think he heard me coming because when I got to the window well, he had already ducked back down into his hole. Frustrated, I went back inside and waited for him to show up at the window and start crawling around again. The second time I went out through the front door and sneaked around the side of the house trying not to get him to make a break for it. I waited patiently until he popped his head out of the ground and he had crawled through the screen when I sprung my trap.

When I was watching him crawl around, he always went the same way, this made it easier ton anticipate his movements. As soon as he was through the screen I sealed off his exit and the hole he had recently popped out from so that to escape me he would have to dig a new hole. The next 20-30 seconds where all human instinct on getting rid of vermin. I bashed the critter with my shovel repeatedly until it stopped squealing and moving. Then I scooped him up and tossed him in the bushes.

I would have rather the mouse had met his end in the claws of a Hawk or Owl, but obviously this mouse was clever enough to evade those types of birds. I also would have preferred either trapping him with a mousetrap or poisoning him, however we had none of these things at the house on Lindig. So it had to be me, either I was going to kill that mouse or it was going to keep doing damage to our house.

Now I know there has got to be somebody out there saying “that’s a terrible thing to do, how can you kill a poor defenseless creature that didn’t do anything to you?” What they need to understand is: Mouse, squirrels and chipmunks all may look cute but they are rodents. It was because of rodents like mice and rats that killed over half of Europe’s population by helping spread the Bubonic Plague. Rodents also do damage in the form of chewing on electrical wires in your house that can end up burning your house down, or building large nests in your basement, attic, or the top of your chimney in the case of squirrels. And another thing, these creatures are not defenseless. They are small, fast, and maneuverable and have teeth, sometimes even have rabies or other diseases. People on campus should know what I am talking about, when you walk by a garbage can and all of a sudden this squirrel about the size of a housecat jumps out at you, you instantly think to yourself or out loud
"That is the biggest fucking squirrel I have ever seen!!”

People need to realize that rodents are not man’s best friend, those jobs are already taken by dogs, cats, and fishes. The world is not how it is shown in Disney films, if it where believe me I would have a pet Raccoon named Rosco and we would go cause trouble together. In reality, Rosco probably spends his time digging through garbage cans and scareing Freshman kids who wander to close to his nest in the tree near the law school. I swear these Raccoons can get to be the size of dogs and would like nothing more than to get into a fight with a drunken student.

So thus ends the 2 part battle between the mouse and the Drew, coming up this weekend two big time rodents will battle it out on the field as Minnesota hosts Wisconsin at the Metrodome for BIG TEN FOOTBALL. I know my favorite rodent, Goldy Gopher, is totally going to exterminate that damn Badger.

Rah Rah Rah for Ska-U-Mah… Go Gophers!!

Minnesota, Minnesota, Yeah Gophers, RAH

Until next time,



Of Mouse (vole) and Drew

Okay, so its about 4 in the morning, and I have been working on this CBD mapping project since about 7 o clock give or take. I finish up with a couple questions to go and jump into bed for some much needed zzz's. All of a sudden I hear this “shkshkshkshksshks”, I wait for it to go away but it doesn’t. I think, man who the hell is making all that noise at this time of night?

So I turn on my light and I see this thing moving along my window. Apparently a mouse had chewed his way through my screen and was trying to squeeze through or bite his way through glass as well. So I am thinking to myself, great now I got a rodent to deal with. And I remember how a few months or weeks ago suggesting to my brother that we get some diazanone or something to keep critters from getting in the house.

So I went and knocked on Frank’s door, at 3:45 in the morning to try to wake him up and help me with this problem or at least show him I was telling the truth. Nothin’, couldn’t get him to wake up, That’s ok, he’s a busy guy and I should be able to handle this myself. So I threw on some jeans and a shirt and marched over to the fireplace and picked up the shovel.

I then ventured out into the yard next to my window by my bed, which looks out on the backyard, and sure enough there was the little bitch climbing on the window again. Not wanting to damage the window I tried to lift him off of it and then to kinda throw him onto the grass or at least out of the well. Little did I know the punk had a hole pre dug and escaped my fireplace shovel before I could even do any damage. Throwing some rocks over the hole, does nothing really, I gave up and went back inside to hopefully go to bed. Tomorrow morning I am going to bring it up with Frank and Pete and that we need to either inspect the house for possible mouse holes if any exist and if we need to start trapping and or poisoning or both.

Anyway, until next post gnight, or should I say good morning??

Whichever it is I am crashing


Sunday, October 09, 2005

The Jug has returned to the U of M!!

Yesterday, October 8, 2005, the Battle of the Little Brown Jug (Michigan vs. Minnesota pictured above) ended with a victory for Minnesota. The last time the Gophers beat the wolverines was in 1986. The final score was 23-20 Minnesota thanks to the freshman kicker Jason Giannini kicked the winning field goal through the uprights.
Read the story of the Little Brown Jug:
(picture was obtained from this website)
This victory was crucial for the Gophers and could lead to a New Years Day Big Ten Bowl Game. With this victory, The Gophers have proven themselves worthy for an on-campus stadium. After last weeks defeat at the hands of Penn State, they were able to spring back and defeat Michigan at Michigan’s “Big House”, not a simple task by any means.

Speaking of the Gophers Stadium, Governor Pawlenty announced that the Gophers have priority over the Twins and the Vikings stadiums in terms of state funding. This is as it should be, considering that the Gophers are a part of the University of Minnesota and don’t have any plans of leaving the state.

(Bowl View of Gopher Stadium)

Support the Gophers on-campus stadium:


To finally beat Michigan after those two close loses. The worst as many Gopher fans remember was 2 years ago at the Metrodome where the Gophers were ahead, and then we let Michigan come back and beat us in the fourth quarter. The Gophers came through and didn’t quite. Mason did great by playing to win with a gutsy call to play for field goal position instead of playing for overtime.

I think a bunch of us are going to be taking pictures of the Jug as soon as it is sitting next to the Paul Bunyan Axe after we play Wisconsin and the Badgers. It’s going to be a war.

Go Gophers!!! Rah Rah Rah for Ska-u-mah

And for your enjoyment here is the Minnesota Rouser:

Minnesota Hats off to thee,
to thy colors true we shall ever be
Firm and stron united are we
Rah Rah Rah for Ska-U-Mah Rah Rah Rah Rah
Rah for the U of M
Minnesota, Minnesota
Yeah Gophers, Rah!!

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Zoom Zoom Zoom, not in a Mazda, But in a freakin’ fast train!!

All right, for all of you readers who complained about the CC post, this will be one of my last entries on Transportation Issues in the Twin Cities. On a side note, it is my Major here at the University and if you don’t like it don’t read it. It’s as simple as that.

Over the Summer, I was working at Minnetex over on the West Bank of the University of Minnesota. I would get up in the morning and ride my bike along the transitway between St. Paul campus and East Bank; then make my way to Wiley Hall. The ride was about 5 miles from the house on Lindig to the West Bank and took me about twenty-five minutes to a half hour to get to work.

As I was riding, I noticed the existing rail infrastructure that ran parallel to the transitway and into the big industrial complex near the Huron lots. I also noticed the seldom Campus Connector that would run past from time to time. It was Summer and the busses weren’t running as often as they do during the school year. The rails were often empty, except for the occasional large freight train burling down the tracks at top speed, and another morning I was up early enough to cross over the tracks and see an Amtrak passenger train making its way towards St. Paul.

One particular morning it was raining really hard, and I had slept in so I was already late for work and had missed the Campus Connector at Gortner. As I am riding I am thinking to myself, “This really sucks, why did I sleep in? I swore my alarm clock went off, and on top of that I have to ride in the rain!! I wish there was a faster way to get where I am going.” And then it came to me. One of the craziest ideas I had of the summer, building a Maglev line between the St. Paul campus and the East Bank.

Maglev Train

Maglev stands for Magnetic Levitation and is a transportation technology involving the use of magnets to propel passenger trains at higher speeds than existing rail technology. There are test guideways in Germany and in other countries and China has already developed some lines that use this technology. We discussed this technology in my Fundamentals of Transit Planning class last semester. My professor had been to the test track in Germany and had a chance to ride on it. Speeds could be reached of upwards of 256 Miles per hour, but where not tried any higher due to the length of the guideway.

There are some disadvantages associated with Maglev. The first and most important is the cost of building and maintaining the guideway that maglev runs on. Maglev runs similarly to a monorail type of track, no rails, often just concrete with lots and lots of magnets and sensors built into them. This is why the technology is not as popular as it could be. Most of the world still has a ton of regular rail infrastructure that can be upgraded for the use of High Speed passenger trains as has been done in most of Europe and Asia, but not here in the United States. The cost of building the new guideway is often what kills the enthusiasm for the project.

However, if the University of Minnesota and specifically the Center for Transportation Studies where to try and get a test track similar to the one in Germany , we may be able to get some of the cost of the guideway paid for by the Federal Government. I know a lot of students would rather see a stadium ( I want one of those too) or reduced tuition (me too as well), but imagine for a second, getting on a train at the newly completed Gophers stadium after a Gopher victory, and being “zoomed” over to the St. Paul Campus in under 7 minutes!!! Same with people who have live on St. Paul campus or near the St. Paul campus (as I do), they could get themselves to the St. Paul Student Center and then take the train to the East Bank. The system could later be extended to the West Bank, and could initially connect the State Fair grounds as well and limit the number of buses coming from the Huron lots.

I don’t know about the rest of you, but the idea of getting on a train and being able to travel from the St. Paul campus to the East Bank in under 7 minutes compared to the bus system (which is great I admit) that takes 15 minutes to a half hour, will sound awful nice come December.

In the meantime, see you on the bus!!


Sunday, September 25, 2005

In a funk…and I think it’s because of a rainy day.

Today, I woke up at about 8:40 and all day I have felt like doing nothing. I guess old habits really do die hard. Sometimes I feel that all I am is a slacker and that I will never amount to anything, not that I don’t have goals, just no motivation and no sense of urgency on tasks. This is very frustrating for me.
It’s funny the effect of the weather on a person’s day. Usually on a warm and sunny day people will work outside and go for nice walks in the park. Cold days there is some outdoor activity accompanied by heavy coats or hooded sweatshirts. Rainy days, on the other hand, good luck getting anything done at all. It seems that as soon as the rain starts to fall, so do people’s ambition. A day full of HW to do becomes a day full of napping and chatting with friends online or writing blogs.
I know I can’t blame the weather for my problems, and at the end of the day it is me who is responsible for the actions and the choices that I make and the consequences that I must face the next day, week, month, and even years to come. I keep telling myself that I have turned over a new leaf, when all I have done is grown out my hair, and not shaved in a while. I am not quite sure if I have completely recovered from my cold as well and sometimes I still really feel like junk. Today didn’t help. Helping cleaning up the grandparent’s house went well, but I just feel like I was spinning out of control. Not really there, you know what I mean?
I mean my body was there, but my mind was off somewhere else, having adventures while my body was stuck here. I am listening to Bob Dylan right now, specifically “It Takes a lot to Laugh” from Highway 61 Revisited one of my favorite songs, I just don’t know if it will be able to get me into a better mood.
I wish KU was here. She always knows how to cheer me up (not that way you sickos) and put a smile on my face. I think I am going to grab a shower/shave and then try to settle into some hw before the weekend is over and the chaos of the week begins.

Hopefully, I will have a more interesting post either later on this evening instead of me whining about the weather.



Saturday, September 24, 2005

Central Corridor

(Note) Picture on left origionally posted in the Minneapolis Star Tribune and obtained from the Metropolitan Council Website, and is of the Hiawatha LRT Line. Thought it would add to the post!!.

As I was heading over the Washington Avenue Bridge today, I had a realization: There are way too many busses on Campus. Especially on Washington Avenue, which besides University Avenue/4th St. is the main thorough fair in and out of Campus. Washington connects the two main banks of the U of M campus (East and West) and is therefore pretty busy in the morning, lunch period, and evening rush hours. This can be seen by the amount of pedestrian and bus traffic in and around stadium village during the lunch period, and the sheer amount of congestion this area experiences during the three time periods listed above.

In Geography 3371: Cities Citizens, and Communities, I have been given the opportunity through CSL (Career Student Learning) to intern with Transit for Livable Communities (TLC). TLC is a major advocacy group for the development of Transitways, bike and pedestrian friendly paths, and Transit Oriented Development in the Twin Cities metro area and region. The major focus of our group’s internship is the Central Corridor Light Rail project. The Central Corridor is an 11-mile corridor consisting of Washington Avenue and University Avenue between the downtowns of Minneapolis and St. Paul Minnesota also known as the Midway District. Historically, the Midway district was serviced by the streetcars and was a location of heavy shipping, industry, commercial, and residential development. In the 1950’s the streetcars were ripped out and replaced by the bus system, it was a very complicated issue and a number of people went to jail. Ultimately the Twin Cities lost one of the best streetcar networks in the country, and we have been struggling to get back to that glory ever since.

Currently the area is serviced by the Route #16, #50 and #50S bus lines operated and owned by Metro Transit. The Express bus 94B, C, and D operate on Highway 94 and offer express service between the two downtowns with higher speeds than the routes #16 and #50.

Our main task with Central Corridor is to help determine the actual path of the LRT and ease the process of implementation. Also, we have to consider how to keep the current residents from being displaced from new development and the higher densities that are expected (hoped for) with the running of LRT between Minneapolis and St. Paul. Which brings me to my opening paragraph. The planners want the LRT to run on the surface until Washington Avenue and then tunnel under the East Bank of Campus and then re-surface on University Avenue all the way to Downtown St. Paul. Sounds pretty cool huh?

Howver, there are some problems with this plan. If the city planner wants to tunnel, then he should tunnel starting on Washington Avenue, underneath Cedar Avenue right before the West Bank Skyway/Blegan and Whiley Hall complex. By placing the tunnel further back, we can dig below existing utility lines and have underground stations on both the West and the East bank sides of campus, with either express elevators going to the street level for campus connectors, and plaza level for students/guests etc. similar to what was done at the Lindberg Terminal. The University would be asked to contribute in a number of ways. Have architectural students create plans for University Subway Stations both at East and West Banks and any of the other stations that students interested in the project would like. At the same time, the University could buy advertising space on a couple of the trains and have them painted in Maroon and Gold motifs with Goldy the Gopher on one of the trians. At the same time, professional architects and designers will plan out station designs as well. University United should be contacted and asked to voice their opinions as well. I have contacted and worked with this group before and they are very determined to make University Avenue more like the grand Baroque Avenues and Boulevards with intense commercial, but predominantly residential development.

However, creating stations on both sides of the river could cause problems with headways and running times. There are already two-three stations relatively close to the University of Minnesota West bank. These are the Cedar Riverside Station, the Metrodome Station, and to the extreme the Franklin Station. However, adding another station beneath the west bank, could potentially decrease the amount of bus activity above ground and provide new tunnels for the Gopher way, and a true connection from both sides of the West Bank underground than across the West bank skyway.

Platforms underground would be reached by elevators or escalators (depending how far down we dig) and once on the platform the other side could be reached by pedestrian bridges that cross over to the other side, or tunnels that go under the tracks/trains and come up on the other side.

Another problem concerning the underground stations is passenger security. Underground stations would have to be well lit and potentially have barriers to entry similar to New York subway stations. Otherwise, campus security could monitor these facilities as well as officers of the Transportation Police Department. By creating barriers to entry, Minneapolis and the State of Minnesota could begin using a system like the Metro Pass; many people already buy discounted transit passes including many students who use the UPass program.
The decision to go underground was made after seeing the incredible amount of bus traffic already on Washington Avenue on campus including Campus Connectors and Shuttles, Metro Transit, Southwest Transit, and Metro Valley Transit Authority (MVTA) all operating in this space and having to contend with heavier traffic.

Now that I have covered some of the issues with the tunnels proposed by the Central Corridor, it is time we addressed some of the surface effects. I know some of you are asking me, “you started this argument with buses, get to the buses already.” I am about to do just that. By implementing the CC LRT plan; the train would replace the limited service provided by the route #50 and #50S. The route #16 would still provide service to all other stops. Most likely, the 94B would still run on Highway 94 depending upon the success of LRT.
Some classmates of mine have argued that the LRT will only make things worse along University Avenue. University Avenue is one of the busiest Truck corridors in addition to regular traffic. By running LRT down the middle, it may be difficult to maintain University Avenues uses as a truck route. In addition, two lanes of traffic may be eliminated in both directions to make room for trains and stations. To eliminate this problem, the LRT may have to be elevated similar to Chicago’s L line. Although this would increase the costs and diminish the appeal, it would allow for stations to be placed in the locations picked out and not interfere with traffic, until entering downtown St. Paul and the Union Depot which has plans to be turned into a multi-mode station for both the CC LRT and the Red Rock Commuter Rail Line running from St. Paul to Rochester.

My classmates have also argued that the CC will not solve commuting problems if there are too many stations. The CC will have to be fast, and get people from Downtown Minneapolis to Downtown St. Paul in under 30 minutes (my desired figure). The #50, can get you to downtown St. Paul in about 45-50 minutes depending upon traffic, the #16 takes about an hour or more at the most, it’s worse with traffic. If the CC can provide commuter service to both downtowns, then it might be as successful if not more than Hiawatha. We will just have to wait and see what Metro Transit and the Council decide.

The Central Corridor is a very ambitious plan. Meaning that it is going to be expensive. Hiawatha, which was a longer corridor and had more stations, ended up costing about $725 Million Dollars and that was with a trimmed budget. Because of the tunneling and infrastructure costs of elevating CC, the cost of the project could potentially be in the billions. This is why, Metro Transit, and the Metropolitan Council, need to be careful and listen to the public before going and building something as extravagant as the CC LRT. I, like most people in the Urban Studies program here at the University of Minnesota, want to see this project get the green light and pass with flying colors. To do this, the citizens of Minneapolis, St. Paul, and the region need to get involved and push for a reform in the way our Transportation system is funded. A dedicated sales tax, as has been done in many other cities in the United States, could help Minnesota reach her goal of a dedicated public transportation system by 2030, and allow for new residential and commercial development in the cores of both downtown Minneapolis and St. Paul that we are already seeing in the Loft and Condo boom. Just imagine the amount of cars on the road if we don’t invest in a new system, our entire workdays will be spent on the highways. And gas prices are only going to increase, unless our nation spearheads the move toward renewable energy sources.

Time to get down from the soapbox, but to emphasize that public involvement is needed and appreciated. We as citizens, control what is implemented. Although it may not seem like that at times under the current administration, this is still a Democracy. Citizens of this State and region have a duty to plan and anticipate the future so that we can tell our leaders what we feel is best for the state of Minnesota, our role in the Midwest, the Nation, and the Global Economy.

For any questions:

For news and how to get involved in other transportation projects around the region: (URLS’s)
Northstar Commuter Rail:
Central Corridor:
Metro Transit:
Metropolitan Council:
Transit for Livable Communities:

Thank you,
Andrew Wambach
University of Minnesota Twin Cities
Urban Studies