Days Since Public Works Director Margaret Anderson Kelliher Promised Full-Time Bus Lanes in the “Very Near Future”

Politicians often talk about “embedding accountability mechanisms” into their legislation, but I have embedded an accountability mechanism right into my website. My hope is that remains a viable website for as long as it takes to get a full-time bus lane on Hennepin Avenue.


Brain Twister: Lisa Goodman says she can’t support this already-funded $60 million transit project because the legislature won’t fund transit projects

The major point of contention in the Hennepin Avenue reconstruction debate is whether the street gets a full-time bus lane or if that lane should spend 20 hours per day as car parking. On June 16, the City Council approved a full-time bus lane. A day later, Mayor Frey vetoed. This Thursday there’s a chance for the City Council to override that veto.

The street currently has partial and part-time lanes — a big hit when they were first installed as a pilot four years ago. This success inspired the city to put in full-time lanes on 7th Street to serve the C Line BRT. The timing of the Hennepin reconstruction is fortuitous: the street reopening in 2026 will coincide with the opening of a $60 million transit upgrade, the E Line BRT.

The E Line is funded largely by the state, which is why all 15 Minneapolis members of the Minnesota House and Senate have written to the Mayor and City Council urging them to implement full-time lanes. The legislators’ letter cites an earlier request from Metro Transit, and emphasizes the importance of full-time lanes to the success of the E Line.

The reason I go into all this history is so you can understand why my head exploded after reading the email newsletter Ward 7 Council Member Lisa Goodman sent to her constituents justifying her vote against a full-time lane:

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Mayor Frey not telling the truth about his bus lane veto

So much agreement on something so necessary, ambitious and having to do with the removal of any amount of parking is incredibly rare. But in a Friday evening veto, Mayor Jacob Frey stomped all over the remarkable consensus that has formed in support of full-time bus lanes serving the E Line BRT when it opens in 2026. Not only was Frey using his veto power to override a vote of the Minneapolis City Council — he was disregarding things like the strongly worded request (expressed in a recent letter) of the entire 15 member Minneapolis legislative delegation, his own professional Public Works staff, the desire of Metro Transit (who’d like to ensure the success of a $60 million transit upgrade), and the needs of transit riders.

But there are reasons to keep pushing. Transit advocates have had an answer every step of this process. They have built this consensus for full-time bus lanes so successfully that the Frey administration can’t tell the truth about what they’re doing. They know they’re on the wrong side and they aren’t proud of it.

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Hennepin Ave Redesign: Key Dates on the Road to Generational Change in Minneapolis Transportation Infrastructure

  • Apr 11, 2018 – First public meeting on the Hennepin Avenue reconstruction and redesign.
  • Dec 4 2020 – Minneapolis Transportation Action Plan adopted 12-1 by the City Council (Lisa Goodman is the lone vote against)
  • Mar 2, 2021 – Professional staff in the city’s Public Works Dept release two options for Hennepin Avenue: both include full-time bus lanes, relying on policy contained in the recently adopted Transportation Action Plan.
  • March 4, 2021 – Public Works traffic engineer Allan Klugman provides stats at an open house: 6,600 bus riders per day is expected to become 14,000 bus riders once E-Line bus rapid transit is added. Transit riders already account for 49% of those in vehicles on Hennepin during peak times.
  • 2021-2022 – Lisa Goodman continuously fucking around behind the scenes, threatening and blowing up at staff.
  • Early to Mid 2021 – Initial timeline for City Council approval of Hennepin layout. This was indefinitely delayed for no apparent reason.
  • August 4, 2021 – Metro Transit sends a letter to the city’s Public Works Dept giving feedback on the Hennepin layout: “all-day bus lanes are critical to the success of both the Hennepin Avenue reconstruction project and the METRO E Line.”
  • January 2022 – A final staff recommended layout for Hennepin is released, based on public input received for the initial two options. Full-time bus lanes are included. This is referred to by staff as the “inform stage” – meaning the Public Works Dept will make no further changes in response to public input. City Council is the next step in the process.
  • Feb 10, 2022 – Mayor Frey’s appointment for the position of Public Works director, Margaret Anderson Kelliher (Lisa Goodman’s actual best friend) is confirmed by the Minneapolis City Council.
  • May 12, 2022 – All 15 members of the Minneapolis legislative delegation to the MN House and Senate write a letter to the City Council strongly urging them to adopt a layout that includes full-time bus lanes on Hennepin Ave, in order to support the E Line BRT, a project for which they allocated $40 million: “Schedule interruptions and delays will suppress ridership, and is tantamount to forcing the route to fail, the effort and resource it took to create it will have been wasted.”
  • May 19, 2022 – The Minneapolis City Council’s Public Works and Infrastructure Committee holds their regular meeting and committee vote on the Hennepin layout, at which it will be officially announced for the first time that Margaret Anderson Kelliher has yanked the full-time bus lane from the plan.
  • May 26, 2022 – Expected date that the full City Council will vote to approve Hennepin layout.

Wedge LIVE Cat Tour 2022

6th Annual Wedge LIVE Cat Tour*
June 29, 2022 – 6 p.m.
Mueller Park, Minneapolis
(25th & Bryant Ave S)

*Pending the approval of street improvements by the Minneapolis City Council.

Update 6/21/2022: This event is at risk of being cancelled or moved out of Minneapolis due to Mayor Frey’s veto of full-time bus lines on Hennepin Ave. His decision disregards last Thursday’s vote of the City Council, the recommendation of his own Public Works staff, a letter from Minneapolis’ entire 15 member state legislative delegation, the preference of Metro Transit to ensure the success of a $60 million transit upgrade (E Line bus rapid transit), and most importantly the needs of my tourgoers. The City Council’s first chance to override Frey’s veto is June 30, so we are postponing this event indefinitely as we work out a contingency plan and discuss the potential need for relocation of the tour to another city.

Nationally-heralded cat tour guide Chet Wedgely (recently featured in the faith-based animal magazine “All Creatures”) is back for a 6th season of Cats of the Wedge.

Or is he? This year’s tour is all set and ready to go. The cats have been working out and eating right, practicing their parade waves. But despite that preparation, it could all be derailed by politics.

As Chet said in his press release:

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Hennepin Avenue: In pursuit of worthy goals, enshrined in city policy, developed over many years

Hennepin Avenue, a street that was last rebuilt in 1957, is due for a reconstruction from Lake Street to Douglas Ave. This isn’t just a surface-level fix. The city will be digging up the street and replacing everything, from top to bottom (utilities). It’s not optional. It’s also an opportunity to rethink the way the street is laid out and who it serves.

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Endorsement: Jeremiah Ellison for Minneapolis City Council in Ward 5

This should be an easy one. Jeremiah Ellison has focused his first term authoring a series of renter protections ordinances. He’s a real progressive, a community leader and an essential voice on the City Council. When others lose the thread, he has a knack for bringing the conversation back to what’s important. He isn’t a bomb thrower. I find him to be extremely solutions-focused. But he is clear, direct, and sharp.

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Endorsement: Phillipe Cunningham for Minneapolis City Council in Ward 4

Public safety looms large when I think about the choice in Ward 4. Phillipe Cunningham is the chair of the City Council’s Public Health and Safety Committee. There’s been no stronger voice on the Council for expanding the city’s array of public safety services — for a more effective, holistic, and integrated system — than Phillipe Cunningham. He is knowledgeable and eager to do this work. He is pragmatic without sacrificing the ambition to transform the way our city approaches public safety. Since taking office he has approached his job with joy and an open heart. It’s been a welcome change, considering the previous chair of the Public Safety Committee said she would quit her job if the Council gained policy control over police.

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