If you think that an artist is not qualified to make a statement about the logistics for the rail to reach all the way to St. Cloud, as it originally should have been, then maybe this post isn't for you. But if you think there's an economically beneficial, socially equitable, and/or geographically wise reason for extending the rail to St. Cloud, then enjoy my perspective... my story:
I am Heidi Jeub: A Mother of Three, A Graduate Student at the University of Minnesota, and a professional artist and arts advocate in Central Minnesota.
I live in my car, it seems. But I did not necessarily want it that way.
When I was newly divorced, running an arts organization here in St. Cloud, yet knowing that, to support my family, I need to expand my education to the Masters Level, I knew I would have to figure out a way to make it all work.
Basic math, I guess you could say…
Gas was expensive at that point… and so was parking… and heaven forbid, I get a parking ticket in the cities… oy, vey.
But so is fixing a 15 year old Volkswagen… 3-4 times, adding up to almost $6000.
I tried to use the Commuter rail… because it made perfect FINANCIAL sense: for less than $20, I could go to class each week. I had some friends, who would let me stay at their home in Richfield, which would require a metro transit pass (that as a student, I got a great discount.)
Yet, the other math I had to do was time… how much time would I have to spend there… in the cities… to wait for a train to get home. … to my kids… to my job… to my community?
It seemed, that Most semesters, I’d have to stay an extra day, just so it would line up with my school schedule. If I didn’t have my friends to stay with, I would be stuck with a hotel room, or in an all night cafe.
That commuter rail was not for me. It made no sense. It was meant for the 9-5 worker… or people who go to Twins games… not for someone trying to do something for her community… feed her children… Not for someone trying to further her education.
That, doesn’t make much sense.
So if it’s going to be called Public Transportation… I would hope the public who may actually use it, if it makes sense to use it… are considered in making this decision.
All Videos and Images by Heidi Jeub, 4/8/17
Greater Minnesota Rail Advocates Demand Accountability
A bipartisan coalition of support for the extension of passenger rail to St. Cloud calls elected leaders to account, and announces statewide rail campaign to be led by area college students.
ST. CLOUD, MN - For over two years the #finishnorthstar campaign has advocated for the extension of the Northstar Commuter rail to St. Cloud at the state legislature. Area representatives Rep. Knoblach, Rep. Theis, Rep. O’Driscoll and Rep. Howe of the state legislature have failed in their support of this community. They have not passed legislation with the needed funding to extend passenger rail service to St. Cloud. Speaker of the House Kurt Daudt has dismissed multiple invitations to relate to the campaign on this issue.
In 2014 Republicans ran and won on a campaign promise they would deliver a transportation bill that would “meet the needs of Greater Minnesotans” if elected. Advocates wonder, where is the bill that meets those needs? Conversations with transportation advocates and county engineers around the state reveal there has been no effort to adequately address the needs facing the state with regards to road and bridge infrastructure either.
On Friday, March 17th Governor Dayton announced a proposal for a demonstration project to extend rail service to St. Cloud to begin this fall. Many area supporters were encouraged by the Governor’s effort.
Over 6000+ people across party line, across four legislative districts, came together in this campaign that had much local success and support and absolutely no organized opposition.
However, upon hearing this last week that both omnibus bills that passed the House and the Senate contained legislation that would defund the MNDOT Passenger Rail office, area college students in particular, were outraged.
“This is exactly why we decided to start the Rally for Rail Minnesota Campaign... This is not a partisan issue. My family has very different political views. My parents are Republican, yet even they can see the value in extending rail service to St. Cloud.” - Anna Peichel, New Ulm
“I feel confidant about the petition drive. Students around here are constantly trying to get back and forth from the cities, its a huge hassle. I can only imagine similar scenarios at other rural campuses.” - Augie Whitlach, St. Joseph
“I grew up in St. Cloud. We keep having these conversations with divisive rhetoric in the state. It is one thing to sit around and have conversations about it, it is another thing to stand up and say, I am going to help create greater connectivity throughout the state. St. Cloud is an important place of initial connection.” - Kevin Duong, St. Cloud
“I see Greater Minnesota as a growing part of the state and this is the perfect time to implement transportation that is energy efficient and convenient for Greater Minnesota. I’m excited about the idea of passenger rail, because it does so many of these things at once, I know others are too. I’m excited to do outreach on other campuses and with existing organizations.” - Spencer Vogel, Alexandria
“I’m somebody who likes to get to the bottom of things. I don’t understand why this Omnibus bill is defunding our Passenger Rail office. We need to meet with Chair of the Transportation Finance Committee to talk about all of this. The way I understand it is that the last time we passed a transportation bill with funding that meets the needs that exist in the state, was 29 years ago, before any of us were born.” - Lucy Dornbach, Edina
The Campaign’s first initial steps include:
- Meet with House Transportation Finance Committee Chair Paul Torkelson (R) - New Ulm
- Organize a petition drive requesting state lawmakers to fully fund the MNDot rail office with 21million dollars, on no fewer than 10 college campuses.
- Identify and build partnerships
Rally for Rail Minnesota Committee:
Lucy Dornbach, Chair (Edina) 952.465.9652
Augie Whitlach, Co-Chair (St. Joseph) 801.989.0423
Anna Peichel, Spokesperson (New Ulm) 507.240.0062
Kevin Duong, Media and Communications Strategist (St. Cloud) 320.250.9398
Spencer Vogel, Outreach Coordinator (Alexandria) 320.491.2631