This AP article says that 2 people have emerged as candidates to replace Tom Sorel as the next MnDOT Commissioner:

One finalist is Charlie Zelle, the president and chief executive officer of Jefferson Lines. The regional bus company operates in 13 states from North Dakota to Texas and has a sister charter company as well.

Zelle is a former investment banker who returned to Minnesota to run his family’s company. He also serves as the chairman of the Minneapolis Regional Chamber of Commerce, giving him deep connections in the business community. He gained notice this summer for being among the Minnesota business executives to publicly advocate and contributing financially to the defeat of a constitutional amendment to permanently ban gay marriage.

The other finalist is Bernie Arseneau, the acting commissioner. He has worked at the department for three decades. An engineer, Arseneau took on a more visible role after the Interstate 35W bridge collapse by helping coordinate alternative traffic plans to compensate for the disruption of a key artery.

Based on recent news stories, the next Commissioner of MnDOT should expect to pay more attention to selling light rail construction and the subsidies that taxpayers will have to pay for the next half century.

It’s clear that environmentalists, including Gov. Dayton and Alida Messinger, don’t like people having the freedom of driving cars. Though Gov. Dayton has said he won’t push the 40-cent-a-gallon gas tax increase proposed by his Transportation Advisory Commission, he didn’t take the tax increase that would pay for light rail projects.

Light rail is a waste of the taxpayers’ money. Despite the progressives’ continuous sales pitch on LRT, LRT hasn’t caught on. What’s worst is that taxpayers will pay massive subsidies annually for the next fifty years on each of these policy excesses.

Any swing district DFL legislator that votes for tax increases that fund additional LRT projects must be defeated the next time they’re up for re-election. The taxpayers should take their frustration out on the DFL’s reckless spending on special interests’ projects.

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4 Responses to “Candidates emerge for MnDOT/Department of Light Rail Subsidies”

  • eric z says:

    Do you know the relative cost, building ten miles of light rail, vs. adding two additional ten mile lanes to a highway? Since light rail goes both ways, the multiplier “two” is justified?

    Aside from gasoline tax questions, a highway grid exists which either becomes gridlocked from growth, it is expanded, or demand on the road network is lessened via a comprehensive light rail grid in parallel, or we muddle as is.

    Light rail will not be productive as fully as feasible with only a few pieces. That is why I thought Northstar was ill-concieved, as the “next piece” of things – also, Northstar does not own its right of way and every change needs BNSF negotiations/approval. They own the tracks.

    A lion’s share of the Ramsey station on Northstar was the payout of more money to BNSF.

    I know, BNSF are private sector, hence “job creators” but they shake down our governments who conceived and implemented Northstar.

    Will it ever get to St. Cloud? That is secondary to the primary question, what’s the best return on investment, extending Northstar, or building out the Twin Cities grid, where gridlock is greatest, so that MnDOT then may have freed resources for rural roads – for you St. Cloud folks.

  • Nick says:

    Light rail makes sense for cities with a large Metropolitan Statistical Area such as Chicago, LA, and NYC, but not for cities with a smaller MSA such as St. Cloud.

  • walter hanson says:


    If light rail is so efficient and cheap why is the first one (the one that runs from Mall of America to downtown) losing money for each rider? With the roads since that is paid for with taxes meant to pay for it like gasoline or car tabs.

    You are aware we can build far more miles of road per dollar then we can light rail lines?

    You are aware once the roads are built we don’t pay a subsidy to the people who drive on them?

    Walter Hanson
    Minneapolis, MN

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