WTS Minnesota logo          WTS Minnesota Newsletter 

Spring 2010
In This Issue
Upcoming Events
Name this Newsletter!
President's Column
Statewide Rail Plan
Scholarship Fundraising Update
MARQ2 Update
Holiday Party
2010 Annual Conference
Upcoming Events

Annual Scholarships and Recognitions Luncheon

Thursday, April 22
11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m.

Dixie's on Grand
695 Grand Avenue
St. Paul, MN  55105
Members: $30
Non-Members: $35
Includes salad, entree, and dessert; choices selected at registration.

Please join us to celebrate the accomplishments of our 2009-2010 award winners!
Welcome New WTS-MN Members!

Barb Thoman
Yer Yang

Has your email address changed? Please email Molly Stewart with your new address and don't forget to update your email address with WTS International as well.
Join Our Mailing List
Name this Newsletter!
WTS Minnesota is looking for member suggestions for a fresh new name for our chapter newsletter.

Got an idea? Email Katie Roth, Marketing Director. 
2010 WTS Minnesota
Board of Directors

Amber Nord

Vice President
Kristin Thompson

Joy Miciano

Christina Miller

Past President

Scholarships & Recognitions Director
Angie Christo

Programs Director
HunWen Westman

Membership Director
Molly Stewart

Membership Co-Director
Karen Allen

Marketing Director
Katie Roth


2010 WTS Minnesota
Advisory Board

Donna Allan
WTS Past President

Laura Amundson
Parsons Brinkerhoff

Gina Baas
Center for Transportation Studies

Biz Colburn
WTS Past President

Sandy Cullen
University of Minnesota

Judy Hollander
Hennepin County

Ann Johnson
University of Minnesota

Connie Kozlak
Metropolitan Council

Jessica Laabs
Kimley-Horn & Associates

Stephanie Malinoff
Center for Transportation Studies

Laurie McGinnis
Center for Transportation Studies

Dan Meyers

Sam O'Connell
Dakota County

Kristin Asher-Osberg
City of Richfield

Lisa Raduenz

Kate Sanderson

Dawn Spanhake
Center for Transportation Studies

Amy Vennewitz
Metropolitan Council

Charleen Zimmer
Zan Associates

Amber 1 
President's Column 
by Amber Nord
We are already a few months into the New Year and the new 2010 WTS Board has been hard at work.I would like to take a moment to welcome the WTS MN 2010 Board. We have a few new faces this year, as well as some long standing board members.

Comprising the board for 2010:  Kristin Thompson, Vice President; Joy Miciano, Secretary; Christina Miller, Treasurer; Angie Christo, Scholarships and Recognitions Director; HunWen Westman, Programs Director; Molly Stewart, Membership Director; Karen Allen, Membership Co-Director; and Katie Roth, Marketing Director.

We are really excited to be in service to our chapter members and provide our members and friends with quality programs and professional development opportunities. Feel free to contact any of the board members with your ideas and comments!

Amber Nord
WTS Minnesota President 
January Program:  Statewide Rail Plan
by Kristin Thompson

2010_Jan Program

On January 14th, WTS members and friends gathered at DeGidio's in St. Paul to learn more about the future of Minnesota's rail network. Dave Christianson of Mn/DOT shared some background and key components of the Minnesota Comprehensive Statewide Freight and Passenger Rail Plan.


The plan breaks new ground for Minnesota: No freight rail plan has been developed since 1994, and no passenger rail plan has ever been produced. Minnesota is one of the first four states in the union to have a federally compliant comprehensive rail plan.


Many are unaware of the important role freight rail plays in our state. Minnesota is above average for the nation in the tonnage and value of goods transported by rail, and has the 8th highest rail mileage of any state. One important component of the freight rail plan is the implementation of positive train control, which improves safety by using a combination of GPS and cell technology to control trains.


The passenger rail portion of the plan, which focuses on intercity rail, calls for ambitious improvements in the coming decades. While today's intercity service is limited to a single round trip per day on Amtrak's Empire Builder, the rail plan envisions a network of passenger rail links connecting cities such as St. Cloud, Duluth, and Rochester to both Minneapolis and St. Paul. Minnesota is also working with the Midwest Regional Rail Initiative to develop 110 mph service to Chicago, with annual ridership expected to be 3-4 million.


The first phase of investment (through 2030) has a price tag of $6.2 to $9.5 billion. Funding will come from a variety of sources, including passenger farebox recovery and private freight railroad investment as well as local and state funding. Christianson noted that these investments can pay off in form of economic development, travel advantages, and VMT and greenhouse gas reductions.

Scholarship Fundraising Update
by Kristin Thompson

As you may know, for the past several years WTS Minnesota has been working to raise funds to support our scholarship program. Thanks to our generous members and corporate partners, we are now very close to meeting our goal!


We are excited to reinvigorate our fundraising campaign with a new initiative, the 2010 Challenge. It's simple: WTS Minnesota needs to raise just $7000 this year to meet our goal of funding our two annual $2000 scholarships in perpetuity.


Look for more information on how and why to give in your email inboxes soon. With your help, WTS Minnesota will be able to support deserving female students in the years ahead.

February Program:  MARQ2 Update
by Katie Roth

February 2010 Program

A sizable group of WTS members and friends met at Hell's Kitchen in downtown Minneapolis for our February program to learn about downtown's recent transit makeover. Guest speaker Steve Mahowald, Senior Planner from Metro Transit, shared an inside perspective on the MARQ2 project's development and implementation.

After nearly a year and a half of construction, express buses began operating on the new Marquette and 2nd avenues in December 2009. The MARQ2 project added a second bus lane to each avenue, allowing buses to pass each other and greatly increasing roadway capacity and travel speeds. The project transformed what was once a clunky "conga line" of slow bus traffic into a "ballet of buses," said Mahowald. The project is expected to double or even triple bus speeds through downtown.

Expanding capacity on Marquette & 2nd allowed Metro Transit and other regional providers to consolidate all north-south express bus traffic on the new transit spines. This move reduced bus volumes on Nicollet Mall, allowing for bicyclists to return to the mall. In addition, the simplified service on Nicollet Mall made it possible for Metro Transit to offer a new Free Ride service for the length of the mall between the Convention Center and Washington Avenue.

A comprehensive driver training program, detailed service scheduling, and extensive on-street customer outreach efforts made for a successful project opening, but challenges remain. Among the issues identified are clear areas for boarding and enforcement of lane restrictions.

Learn more about the MARQ2 improvements at metrotransit.org.

iPod Winner Margaret Donahoe
iPod Winner Margaret Donohoe
WTS Holiday Party

Fun was a had by all who attended the Annual Holiday Party & Scholarship Fundraiser on Thursday, December 17. 

Live jazz music, great food, massage, tarot cards, and a silent auction made it a great event to remember! Thank you to all who contributed to the scholarship fund.

Enjoying good music and great company
table talk

WTS 2010 Annual Conference:
The Right Place @ The Right Time

How do you end up at the right place at the right time?

By signing up for the WTS annual conference, May 19-21, 2010, in Washington, D.C.

This year's event is packed with the right stuff, including:

  • Keynote address by U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood
  • Up-to-date information on transportation legislation and funding opportunities
  • Information sessions on transportation and client change, industry leadership, sustainable solutions, road and air congestions, and more
  • The inside scoop on the future of high-speed rail in the U.S.
  • Invaluable networking with industry experts
  • Pre- and post-conference workshops to help you build your business and communicate with your clients

And so much more...

Hotel room block at the Capital Hilton ends April 16. Early conference registration ends April 19th.

For more information and to register, visit the WTS annual conference page.