DOT Innovation in Minnesota: 2014 Working Paper 2

This is the second in a series of working papers prepared for the Minnesota Department of Transportation and Smart Growth America that presents a new framework for evaluating transportation projects based on established and emerging practices in the field of public sector return on investment.

Assessing Return on Investment in Minnesota’s State Highway Program

The state highway system in Minnesota operates today at a high level, meeting many of the performance goals established for the system. Over the next 20 years, however, the highway system is expected to experience a steady decline in performance, as projected state transportation revenues of $18 billion are unable to keep pace with the … Continued

Introducing "Amazing Place"

A new trend in local economic development is emerging. Talented workers—and the companies who want to employ them—are increasingly moving to walkable neighborhoods served by transit, with a vibrant mix of restaurants, cafes, shops, cultural attractions, and affordable housing options.

Amazing Place

Many companies—from Fortune 500 titans to lean startups to independent manufacturers—are moving to places that offer great quality of life for their employees. As Smart Growth America detailed in our 2015 report Core Values: Why American Companies are Moving Downtown, these companies want vibrant neighborhoods with affordable housing options, restaurants, nightlife, and other amenities in … Continued

Councilmember Michael Wojcik on creating a community that works for all

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Summer Market in Rochester, MN. Photo by Rochester, MN via Facebook.

Driving home from work one day in Rochester, MN, Michael Wojcik came across an accident where a 6-year-old girl riding her bicycle with her family had been struck and killed by a vehicle. The family lived in a subdivision, and had to cross two major county roads to get anywhere. That is what they were doing that day, when three lanes of traffic had stopped—but the fourth did not.

Join us at Rail~volution 2014

st-paul-green-lineA METRO Green Line train in downtown St. Paul, MN. Photo by Metro Transit via Flickr.

Smart Growth America staff are headed to Rail~volution 2014, next week and we want to see you there! Join us on September 21-24 in Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN, at one of the many sessions we will be speaking on or facilitating.

Dangerous by Design 2014: Minnesota

The National Complete Streets Coalition reports on the national epidemic of pedestrian fatalities, offering county-, metro-, and state-level data on traffic fatalities and an interactive map of each loss in the decade 2003 through 2012. This resource specific profiles the state of Minnesota.

Mayor Elizabeth Kautz on creating a thriving downtown – from scratch

Heart of the City in Burnsville

Community transformation typically requires both strong leadership and widespread buy-in from residents and business owners. Over the past 20 years, Burnsville, MN Mayor Elizabeth Kautz worked together with her community to shape a common vision for the city’s future growth and on the path to becoming more walkable, vibrant and sustainable.

Elizabeth Kautz is the mayor of Burnsville, MN and member of Smart Growth America’s Local Leaders Council. Located in the greater Minneapolis area on the Minnesota River, the site of what is today the city of Burnsville was dominated by agriculture until the middle of the 20th century. The population grew quickly during the subsequent decades but the city’s development pattern was heavily oriented to the automobile, leaving little infrastructure for pedestrians and no discernible downtown or urban center.

Since taking office in 1995, Mayor Kautz has taken steps to make the city more walkable and to implement smart growth development principles. Some of these strategies include creating a trail master plan, a Complete Streets policy that builds off a strong transportation system, and “a sustainability plan that incorporates a comprehensive look at our city including redevelopment, streets, our carbon footprint, and recycling.”

In a recent interview with Smart Growth America, Kautz identified the lack of a downtown as a significant issue for the city’s development efforts. In seeking to improve this, Kautz explains, “we put all of the regulatory and economic tools in place to create an urban center that is pedestrian-friendly with a beautiful urban park and performing arts center.” This plan came to fruition when the site of an outdated shopping center was transformed to become an economic development engine and cultural center called the “Heart of the City”. The 54-acre site is a smart growth project aiming to create a mixed-use, walkable downtown area. It has multiple retail shops, businesses, a community arts center, a park, and diverse housing options.