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Conservative Think Tank's Billboards Blame Road Congestion On Met Council

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- Critics of all the congestion around the Twin Cities say it is not just the multiple road construction projects.

Tens of thousands of drivers sitting in traffic are seeing billboards which read, "Stuck in Traffic? Blame Dayton's Met Council."

The colorful signs are hard to miss, and they are the work of a conservative Minnesota Think Tank called Center of the American Experiment.

They blame congestion on the building of a mass transit system instead of more highways.

Traffic Congestion Billboard
(credit: CBS)

"Instead of reducing traffic congestion, they want to spend billions on trains and bicycle paths that will never carry more than a tiny fraction of Twin Cities commuters," said John Hinderaker of the CAE. "That is the policy that must change."

The center's report says drivers spend 47 hours in traffic every year, a number that's quadrupled since 1982.

And it recommends reducing congestion by building more lanes -- like Kansas City and Indianapolis did.

But that recommendation is getting aggressive pushback from the region's top business leaders. They say more highways and less transit is a terrible idea.

Jonathon Weinhagen, president of the Minneapolis Regional Chamber of Commerce, says 40 percent of Minneapolis workers arrive on buses or trains, which is a boon to businesses.

"Let's talk about transit as an economic development driver," Weinhagen said. "Have you been to Kansas City? Have you been to Indianapolis? [Minneapolis] is a bustling, world-class economy, and we maybe shouldn't be aspiring to be Kansas City or Indianapolis."

Undaunted, the CAE's congestion billboards will remain all summer, or as it's known in Minnesota, "road construction season."

A spokesman for the Metropolitan Council calls the billboard claims "illogical."

A council study scheduled for release this summer says the number of Minnesota drivers grew by 40 percent in the last 15 years, but congestion remained flat.

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