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Thursday
Oct252018

Updates from the Metropolitan Council, Including Affordable Housing and Transportation 

Via October 24 and 25 e-announcements from the Metropolitan Council:

Metropolitan Council awards $4.5 million in grants to support affordable housing development
Grants expected to support creation of more than 650 units of affordable housing

 

The Metropolitan Council has approved nearly $4.5 million in Livable Communities grants to supportaffordable housing near existing and planned transit service. The grants are expected to support the creation of more than 650 housing units affordable to low- and very low-income residents and important connections to jobs and services. 

“The Livable Communities program goes a long way toward supporting and promoting economic growth and prosperity in the region,” said Council Chair Alene Tchourumoff. “A critical component to achieving prosperity is the availability of affordable housing. These grants all support the creation of affordable housing that’s close to transit and other types of transportation. Each project focuses on a different group of people in need of affordable housing.

“The region faces a critical shortage of housing and housing that residents can afford,” said Tchourumoff. “These grants make important strides, but our region’s success at achieving livability, affordability and economic prosperity rely heavily on making sure we have more homes for more people and more options for getting to school and work.”

Tchourumoff says the four grant awards are expected to create 674 affordable homes, more than 900 permanent and temporary construction jobs, increase the net tax capacity by $740,000 and leverage $187 million in other public and private investment. 

Grants include:

  • $2 million for “Legends of Minnetonka,” to support redevelopment of an existing office building into nearly 500 affordable housing units across from the future Opus LRT station along the Green Line Extension. Housing choices will be available for families, individuals, and seniors.
  • $1.2 million for “Lake Street Apartments,” in Minneapolis to support construction of workforce housing, including housing for homeless veterans, in the Lyn-Lake area near frequent bus service and the Midtown Greenway. The project will include 111 affordable housing units, commercial/retail space, indoor bike storage, a green roof, and solar panels.
  • $350,000 for “The Peris,” in Minneapolis to support new affordable housing for young people who are transitioning out of the foster care system. The development includes 41 housing units for low- and very low-income residents.
  • $949,250 for “Northwest University & Dale” in Saint Paul to support mixed-use redevelopment in the Dale Street LRT Station area to create a “Main Street” that serves the daily needs of residents and small businesses. Plans call for 32,000 square feet of office and commercial space and 40 affordable housing units near a plaza and green space.

These grants fall under the category of Livable Communities funds for transit-oriented development. They are grants that provide incentive for creating connections between housing, jobs and transit; promote efficient use of land and increased transit ridership; as well as access to services that meet daily needs.

Grants are awarded on a competitive basis and reviewed and recommended by the Livable Communities Advisory Committee. Applicants are local units of government that commit to affordable housing goals and participate in the Livable Communities program. Proposed projects must meet criteria that the Council has vetted and approved.

Since the Livable Communities program became law in 1995, the Council has approved grants totaling nearly $375 million to assist projects that have created or retained more than 52,000 jobs, cleaned up 2,300 acres of polluted property for redevelopment, created or preserved nearly 22,000 affordable housing units, and leveraged billions in additional public and private funds.

Council adopts update to region’s 2040 Transportation Policy Plan

The Metropolitan Council has approved an update to the region’s 2040 Transportation Policy Plan, which provides a framework for how our region will support the movement of people as we plan for growth into the future. The 2018 update to the plan addresses trends that have emerged since the 2040 plan was first adopted in 2015 and includes new information.

“This update will help guide thoughtful, coordinated decision-making between local units of government, the state and the Council,” said Chair Alene Tchourumoff. “Good planning doesn’t end after creating a plan – it includes checking in with government and community partners to ensure the long-term plans are on track, adjusting where necessary, and accounting for new trends and information. This update is the result of thoughtful collaboration with partners across the region.”

Wednesday’s approval marks the end of a nearly two-year-long process, involving many stakeholders and meetings, including technical staff, policymakers, and people in the region. In addition, another 150 people and organizations submitted public comments that are reflected in the final version of the plan.

The Transportation Policy Plan contains detailed information about the region’s transportation system, including highways, transit, and bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure. The plan also addresses regional freight movement and airports. It identifies policies for maintaining, managing, and improving the region’s transportation system. Those policies guide the investment plans for each aspect of the system. The plan is required by the federal government and must be updated every five years.

Highlights of the 2018 update

  • Updated fiscal projections for highway and transit system investment
  • Funding commitment for new major highway and transit investments
  • The creation of performance measures to guide investment
  • Addressing key challenges and opportunities in transportation over the long-term, including autonomous vehicles and shared mobility systems
  • Results from recent transportation planning studies, such as the Regional Truck Freight Corridor study

Two funding scenarios

The 2040 Transportation Policy Plan identifies two funding scenarios: one based on anticipated revenues, and a second scenario based on the availability of additional funding, if it were to become available. Anticipated revenues are based on current local, state and federal laws and programs – including growth rates consistent with historical trends.

Under the current revenue scenario, the region is estimated to receive $92 billion in transportation funds from all sources through 2040. Of that, $41 billion would be for local transportation, nearly $16 billion for state highways and $35 billion for transit.

The 2018 update also more clearly acknowledges local funding sources for regional transportation, including property taxes, sales taxes, and wheelage taxes.

A majority of funds for state highways would pay for maintenance, management and repair of the existing metropolitan highway system. Another priority is investments that improve mobility on the existing highway system. For transit, funds will support the existing system and the build-out of the arterial rapid bus network and other regional transitway corridors:

  • METRO Orange Line (I-35W south bus rapid transit)
  • METRO Green Line Extension (Southwest light rail)
  • METRO Blue Line Extension (Bottineau light rail)
  • METRO Gold Line (Gateway dedicated bus rapid transit)
  • Rush Line dedicated bus rapid transit
  • C Line bus rapid transit on Penn Avenue North

A number of other corridors are identified in the plan as still being studied and primed for future implementation, including BRT lines on Chicago-Emerson-Fremont Avenues in Minneapolis, Lake Street and Marshall Avenue in Minneapolis and St. Paul, and Hennepin Avenue in Minneapolis.

Challenges and opportunities

The plan identifies key regional transportation challenges and opportunities. These areas provide the framework for policy discussion in the next several years in anticipation of the next plan update.

“Emerging technologies in transportation have the potential to significantly impact our approach to planning and providing services,” Chair Tchourumoff said. “We’re particularly anxious to see how vehicle technologies evolve and how we might integrate more electric vehicles into our fleet. But we’re also mindful of the amount of electric power we consume and ways to use renewable sources to address our overall climate impact.”

Identified issues include:

  • Balancing funding for the aging highway system and the emerging transit system
  • Changing travel patterns
  • Addressing highway congestion
  • Technology and its influence on travel
  • Addressing equity in transportation planning and investment
  • Sustainable environmental practices, related to emissions, environmental health, and electric vehicles (both personal and transit)
  • Assuring connections between transportation and land use to foster regional prosperity

2019-22 Transportation Improvement Program Amendment

The Metropolitan Council’s Transportation Advisory Board (TAB) is receiving public comment on a proposed, regionally-significant amendment to the 2019-2022 Transportation Improvement Program (TIP). The Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) requests an amendment to add a project reconstructing and expanding I-94 in Wright County.

An amendment is required because the project expands capacity and is, therefore, regionally significant. The project would be programmed for state fiscal year 2019 (between July 2018 and June 2019). This project was awarded funding through the Corridors of Commerce solicitation in 2018.

Find the TIP amendment and information about federally funded regional transportation improvements on the Transportation Improvement Program web page

The draft 2019-2022 Transportation Improvement Program is also available online.

This TIP Amendment was released for public comment by TAB on October 17, 2018.

The Council will receive comments on the proposed TIP amendment from Thursday, Oct. 25 through 5 p.m., Wednesday, Nov.14, 2018 as follows:

  • Mail: Metropolitan Council, 390 Robert St. N., St. Paul, MN 55101
  • E-mail: info@metc.state.mn.us
  • Public Comment Line: 651-602-1500

For more information, email Joe Barbeau, senior planner at the Metropolitan Council or call 651-602-1705. 

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