From Barb Thoman, Executive Director
Several Ramsey County commissioners are trying to land a new Vikings stadium in Arden Hills by instituting a new county sales tax of ½ cent. Transit for Livable Communities believes that Ramsey County needs improved public transit before it needs a new football stadium!
Transit service in Ramsey County is sparse. By 2014, when Central Corridor LRT opens, the County will have only one rail line. Many suburbs in Ramsey County have transit service only to downtown St. Paul and then only on weekdays. Even in St Paul, there are many bus lines that don’t run on weekends or after rush hour.
A new football stadium at the former Twin Cities Arsenal site would see less than a dozen games a year in a location that is not currently served by transit. The Arden Hills location would likely require $100 – $200 million dollars to make the existing highway and county roads capable of serving game-day traffic. These tax dollars are in addition to the cost of actually building a new stadium.
Alternatively, a comparable amount invested in county-wide transit improvements would serve more people every day of the year. Such investment would promote efficient access to dozens of business or recreational destinations throughout the area.
Transit for Livable Communities has worked for a decade to increase funding for public transit across Minnesota. We celebrated when the 2008 transportation bill included a new regional sales tax for public transit – despite the fact that it was less than half of what was really needed. The region and the state still need additional funding to build and operate the public transit network a region of our size needs and the public wants.
With gas at nearly $4 per gallon, the population graying, and wages flat, more people need the option to leave the car at home or to reduce the size of the family fleet. Other, competing regions, such as Dallas, Denver, and Seattle are far ahead of us on transit investment and, as a result, are attracting and retaining young workers for whom transit is a priority. The Twin Cities needs transit now more than ever!
We hope Ramsey County officials will understand that a better transit system should be a higher priority than building an expensive football stadium in a transit unfriendly location.