Regarding the front-page article "More oil trains roll into Mpls." (Oct. 7):

"Oil Trains"

A slithering line of obsidian tank-cars from craven North Dakota

quakes the freshwater lakes of Minnesota, then stuns the Mississippi.

Now on a neighborhood street in Minneapolis it rumbles overhead —

over a bridge whose stanchions are stamped 1920.

Concrete crumbled off. Ninety-year-old steel shoulders the load.

I hold my breath against the ghost like I did as a kid riding my bike past the cemetery.

Crows of unacknowledged intelligence


and dive

as if raptors were invading their nests.

Barbara Draper, Minneapolis


Minnesota urgently needs balanced, long-term strategy

Thank you Star Tribune Editorial Board for Wednesday's editorial ("Some states ramp up transportation funding," Oct. 7). You have set the table for this critical public policy discussion.

The 15 states that passed major transportation packages in 2015 have demonstrated that they understand the importance of vibrant transportation systems to their communities and the state economy. Their elected officials understand that transportation is a core function of government.

Minnesota's transportation infrastructure is decaying at an increasing rate. It is poor leadership and dysfunctional thinking to believe that Minnesota's transportation infrastructure is attractive to business or employees. The inefficiencies of our antiquated infrastructure ripple through the Minnesota economy and communities, placing Minnesota in the unenviable situation of being a state that is neglecting the safety of its traveling public and the economic opportunity afforded to states with a modern, progressive infrastructure.

As long as Minnesota neglects transportation funding, Minnesota companies will lose out to other states and their metro areas, which have the leadership and wisdom to approach transportation in a proactive and enlightened manner. At stake are thousands of jobs, the quality of life of our communities, and the safety of all who use Minnesota roads and bridges.

Transportation funding can be generated in different ways. While a gas tax makes the most sense to many, it should be one part of the long-term funding solution.

Minnesota's growth and prosperity can be given a huge boost by a long-term, balanced and sustainable funding package, and 2016 is the time to do it. Anything less is irresponsible and unacceptable.

Dave Semerad, St. Paul

The writer is CEO of Associated General Contractors of Minnesota.


Notice the list of restrictions that were put in place after 9/11

On Oct. 7, a letter writer seemed to object to the phrase "gun violence" and asked, "[D]id you think 9/11 was airplane violence?"

I suppose you could call 9/11 "airplane violence" because an airplane was used to commit violence. And as a result, changes were made to the way we are allowed to use airplanes. Here's a partial list:

• The TSA was created by the government to handle security screenings at all U.S. airports. (Previously done by private companies.)

• Specific ID is required; ID name must match name on ticket.

• Shoes must be removed at checkpoints.

• All baggage, carry-on and checked, must be screened.

• No liquids (above 3.4 ounces) are allowed.

• Special items must be pulled from luggage.

• Jackets and outwear must be removed.

• Body-scan machine screening has been put in place.

• There are enhanced pat-downs.

• No more nonticketed visitors are allowed at airline gates.

9/11 was horrific, but since that day, people with guns have killed far more Americans than terrorist attacks. It's a false equivalent and a trite comparison.

Amy Anderson, Edina

• • •

Regarding the Oct. 7 letter, "Do you think 9/11 was airplane violence?" No, but have you noticed how much harder it is to get on a plane since 9/11? Everyone with a ticket is screened, we take off our shoes and empty our pockets. And have you noticed that — thanks to those measures taken in response to 9/11 — there hasn't been another U.S. airplane hijacking since? To follow your analogy properly, we should do background checks, and we should keep a database of gun purchases. And we should screen gun buyers meticulously. No, it won't stop every mass shooting or senseless home shooting or urban gang shooting. But I bet that 20 years from now those rates will be lower. Whereas doing nothing will simply guarantee what I believe is an unacceptable status quo.

Richard Gibson, St. Louis Park

• • •

The letter writer asks, "For all of you Democrats who think the recent Oregon incident is 'gun violence,' did you think 9/11 was airplane violence?" The answer is that both Democrats and Republicans thought so, which is why we made it more difficult for terrorists to get their hands on the controls of passenger jets.

Bob Lewis, Eden Prairie


Recess was fun when adults weren't telling us what to do

Regarding the article "New turf for consultants: Playgrounds" (Oct. 4), as a student in the Edina public schools and a former student at Concord Elementary, I feel that this is a very big issue. When I was at Concord, we would always have fun during recess doing whatever we wanted to do. Even though the entire time I spent at Concord was without many friendships, recess was always fun and without adults telling us what to say, we still were fairly nice to each other. I feel that it would stifle kids' creativity to make them do only what adults tell them, because one of the big things that I remember was figuring out what to play and how to play it. Occasionally, an adult would come out and play with us, but they would never tell us what to do — letting us learn how to interact socially.

Luke Osler, Edina


What a good example was set by Emmer, Walz on VA issues

Buried in the Minnesota section was a report of a remarkable event ("VA tensions trigger call for help," Oct. 3). Two congressmen from different parties jointly began an effort to improve a government function. U.S. Reps. Tim Walz, a Democrat, and Tom Emmer, a Republican, searched for the cause of the dysfunction of the St. Cloud VA Medical Center. There was no grandstanding, no prepared sound bites and no finger pointing. There was just a search for facts that may lead to improvements. That is governing. Perhaps other politicians could follow their lead and start governing instead of campaigning.

Alvin Larson, Bloomington