Star Tribune from Minneapolis, Minnesota on February 25, 2014 · Page B3
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Star Tribune from Minneapolis, Minnesota · Page B3

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Minneapolis, Minnesota
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Tuesday, February 25, 2014
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Page B3
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TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 25, 2014 STAR TRIBUNE METRO B3 around the metro Freight traffic disrupting Northstar Monday's commuter delays rank among the most severe since the train began running in 2009 and the problem is not going away. By PAUL WALSH and TIM HARLOW Star Tribune staff writers In what has become a chronic problem for the Northstar line from Big Lake to Minneapolis, heavy freight traffic pushed the commuter train off schedule and is expected to do so several days this week. Officials for BNSF, which owns the tracks, said Monday afternoon that riders should "expect it will take several days to work through the freight congestion," according to spokeswoman Amy McBeth. "In the meantime, we are rerouting traffic where possible ... to help with the recovery." A tweet from Metro Transit warned Monday morning's riders to "expect significant delays (60-90 minutes) due to freight traffic." Commuters could wait for their trains or board replacement buses. Monday's disruptions rank among the most severe since Northstar began operating in 2009. One of the five Saluting the winter sun JEFF WHEELER jeff.wheelerstartribune.com A couple of dozen hardy souls braved temperatures in the teens to practice yoga in the snow Sunday afternoon on the Nicollet Mall in Minneapolis. The event at Piazza on the Mall, next to Westminster Presbyterian Church, was intended to draw attention to American Heart Month. "We did it to get people to move outside and show that we're a healthy and happy community," said Yess Yoga owner Lucia Yess, who led the practice. Her head just visible above the snow, Katherine Bisanz looked up while in the Up Dog pose. Departing St. Benedict leader heading to DrewU MaryAnn Baenninger will become president of Drew Uni versity after she steps down as head of the College of St. Benedict in St. Joseph, Minn. Baenninger, who announced last fall that she was leaving St. Benedict, was named Monday as the MaryAnn Baenninger new president of Drew, a private liberal arts college in Madison, N.J. She beat out a pool of more than 100 applicants and will take over in July, according to a university news release. Baenninger has been president of St. Benedict since 2004. She said in October, at age 57, that she was giving up her post for personal reasons but was not ready to retire. She will remain at St. Benedict until June. MAURA LERNER inbound runs had to be scrapped altogether. The other four saw delays of 37, 75, 90 and 120 minutes, said Metro Transit spokesman Drew Kerr. The lone northbound train also never got rolling, requiring buses to fill in, Kerr said. Early alerts indicated the delays were concentrated between Ramsey and Anoka. Lots of competition for tracks Kerr added that Metro Transit is engaged in "trip-by-trip communications with BNSF, and we are working on long-term strategies that will return Northstar rail service to its traditional reliability." Until January, Northstar was one of Metro Transit's most reliable services with a 96 percent on-time record. That, along with fare reductions last year, helped ridership soar to a one-year record of more than 787,000. Since then Northstar has suffered a rash of delays. The oil boom and other economic demands for freight v Vikings unveil stadium preview center Minnesota Vikings fans, at least some of them, can soon get a sneak preview of the team's new $1 billion stadium The team and Van Wagner Sports & Entertainment have completed the Stadium Preview Center adjacent to the stadium's construction site in downtown Minneapolis (now home to the hulk that was once the Metrodome). The space will be open to the public by appointment later this week. The 7,500-square-foot Preview Center is located on the fifth floor of the 1010 Metrodome Square Building, 1010 S. 7th St. The Vikings are currently contacting season-ticket holders to arrange appointments, followed by those who are on the team's waiting list. Non-season ticket holders can sign up for the waitlist or track developments on the stadium website, www.newmin-nesotastadiumcom. The interactive space is the largest ever built by an NFL team, according to the Vikings. It overlooks the stadium construction site and includes a "custom-filmed experiential player tunnel and Vikings locker room experience, two authentic suite build-outs, a 24-seat club seating section, 37 high-definition televisions and seven inter- service have fed congestion on the tracks, along with a harsh winter that has caused signals and switches to malfunction, McBeth said. Two weeks ago, disabled freight trains blocked the tracks between Big Lake and Elk River. 'The most ridiculous thing' Nicole Kessler was already frustrated with the delays before her patchwork trip Monday from Elk River to Minneapolis took a strange turn. She gave up on the train and boarded a replacement bus at 7:30 a.m But the bus unexpectedly pulled into the Maple Grove rest area along Interstate 94 at a passenger's request. Not surprisingly, other riders seized the opportunity to get off the bus. "That delayed us even longer," said Kessler, who was heading to the University of Minnesota for classes. She arrived at Target Field at 9:40 a.m, two hours late and well after the arrival of the train she skipped. "I like the train when it is working the way it should, but this is the most ridiculous thing," she said. "It's not from a mat of snow Minnesota Vikings Minnesota Vikings fans can get an early, interactive look at the new stadium under construction in downtown Minneapolis at the team's preview center. active kiosks," the team said in a news release. The center also contains a cityscape model and a detailed architectural stadium model. Visitors can also see 360-degree panoramic views from 275 vantage points within the stadium "We believe the new stadium will provide the premier gameday expe reliable, and customers are frustrated with the communication between freight trains and Metro Transit. It's not very good." Amtrak, which uses the same tracks, also has been plagued by delays west of St. Paul on its Empire Builder service stretching through North Dakota and into Washington state. All month, Amtrak has been alerting its riders about "significant delays along the route due to freight train interference." Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari said Monday that he's sure the notice that expires Saturday will be immediately replaced with another one. Some critics are asking the U.S. Department of Transportation to intervene. A spokeswoman for BNSF said three weeks ago that the railway is working to improve service, adding locomotives, bringing in more crews and running east and westbound traffic on separate routes in key areas of North Dakota. pwalshstartribune.com 612-673-4482 harlowstartribune.com 612-673-7768 f mvmWL rience in the NFL, and this Preview Center will help bring that into focus for Vikings fans," said Steve LaCroix, the team's vice president of sales and marketing and chief marketing officer. The new stadium is slated to open July 2016. JANET MOORE on the beat Star Tribune metro reporters open up their notebooks Winter sleepouts raise cool $2 million JEAN HOPFENSPERGER PHILANTHROPY 1 This year's blis- jt . tering winter is no n rjt match for hundreds 2 r f fearless Minne- sotans who by sleeping outside for one night this winter raised a record $2 million for a Wayzata nonprofit serving low-income families. About 700 cold-weather warriors, including students, religious groups and business leaders, spent teeth-chattering nights in tents in November and December to raise funds for Interfaith Outreach and Community Partners. Donations for the 2013 SleepOut, which continue through the end of March, have broken last year's record of $1.9 million, said Jill Kohler, the nonprofit's development director. A surprise $200,000 that arrived in January tilted the scales. "This community is just awesome," said LaDonna Hoy, executive director of Interfaith Outreach. The sleepout was started 18 years ago by Wayzata businessman Bob Fisher. From one man with a vision, it has been transformed into an annual philanthropy tradition for hundreds of Twin Cities residents. It has raised more than $19 million. During the six weeks of sleepouts, small tent villages pop up at schools, churches and businesses around the metro. Youngsters in religious education classes, for example, sleep in front of their churches so they can talk to parishioners in the morning or participate in the Sunday service, Kohler said. Student groups tend to sleep on their school grounds, she said, and corporate volunteers also tend to stay close to the office doors, she said. Among the big groups this year: The CargillGeneral Mills sleepout had about 100 people, said Kohler. St. Philip the Deacon Lutheran Church in Plymouth rallied about 60 hardy souls. A Wayzata after-school program drew about 50 middle school students. The fundraiser now raises half the annual costs for the organization's services to low-income families, said Kohler, including its food shelf and assistance with housing, jobs, transportation and child care. "It's really caught fire," said Kohler. "It's been quite a ride." Jean Hopfensperger612 673-4511 whistleblower Know something we should investigate? E-mail whistleblowerstartribune.com or call 612-673-4271. Did you seek help fixing your credit? Excerpt from our blog: The Federal Trade Commission and Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson have warned consumers to be careful when paying a company to help repair their credit. On her website, Swanson says, "while credit scores can be improved, it is important not to use 'credit repair' companies. These companies offer to improve your credit score or lower your interest rates for a fee. Unfortunately, these companies hardly ever improve a consumer's creditworthiness." But a local attorney told Whistleblower that credit repair companies may help consumers lower their debt or navigate the process of reporting errors to the FTC. Have you ever used a credit repair company? Were you successful in resolving your issues? I'd like to hear from you. ALEJANDRA MATOS More at startribune.comwhistleblower

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