Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Psst! Hey Mound... want some candy?!

We live safe lives, inside our home, or inside our car. To try to stay in shape, we drive to the gym, and run on treadmills. Unfortunately, we've allowed cars to dominate our lives so much, that we've made many of our streets unbearable for people. Public health officials studying American's obese point to this lifestyle we have accepted as normal as a significant factor in why so many of us are overweight. The decisions we make as a community about how we get from place to place affect our health. This isn't a just a problem in Mound, this is national. Our whole system is set up to put us in these boxes. If we want this to change, do we wait for orders from Washington DC, or St. Paul, MN? Of course not! To change this around, cities like Mound need to plan and build walkable neighborhoods, and give people real, viable, and accessible options in transportation. The change needs to happen with us.

Mound is finishing up rebuilding much of it's city streets next year. They are fantastic streets for the most part, and were necessary to be done. These are the streets many of us live on, and have recently suffered through the reconstruction of them. Most, I say, were done well. They are attractive, drain storm water more effectively  and are generally pleasant places to walk and bike on.

The next street projects will be it's MSA streets (or stroads) that we have discussed several times. This includes our 'boulevards' like Bartlett, Tuxedo, Wilshire, and Three Points. The difference in these streets is that they are essentially funded and designed by the state. The MSA is a 'system' that rewards cities for building auto dominated streets. The state of Minnesota essentially gives cities like Mound a choice....

Option 1 - Rebuild that crappy neighborhood street like your other streets, where the city and the surrounding neighborhood pay for it.
Option 2 - Rebuild that crappy street using highway design, wider and straighter, so cars can cut 30 seconds out of their commute(ala stroad), and we (the state) will pay for most of it. The part you need to pay for... you can assess the property owners for the honor of living on our 'street'.

A gift from the state... it makes your neighborhood a worse place, but hey, it's practically free!

Free Stroads!

What kind of choice is that? If you were the city of Mound, would you take the free, bad for the community, drive through street, or does it make the hard choice, and pay for and build streets that create a healthy neighborhood and be a place to drive to?

12-5-12 - Update - The mayor says that MSA streets cost the city and local residents the same as if they were a regular street. The state pays for all the additional width and foundation the streets needs to be qualify to be a MSA street. Watch the video to see the his complete response.