System Update: Rail, Bus, Bike, Walk
By Dave Van Hattum, Senior Policy Advocate
As planning for transit and active transportation continues to move forward in the Twin Cities metro region this spring, there are a number opportunities to get involved. Here are the latest developments on key projects and upcoming options for sharing your support and ideas:
Bottineau LRT. Also known as the Blue Line extension, this planned LRT line will connect downtown Minneapolis to Brooklyn Park and could open as early as 2019. The draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS), which discusses this project’s purpose, need, alternatives, and impacts, is now available for public comment. We encourage you to attend upcoming public hearings and to share your support for Bottineau LRT and the many benefits of expanded transit options.
Get involved: Public Hearings, May 7, 8, 13, and 14. See details here. Send comments firstname.lastname@example.org through May 29.
Southwest LRT. In April, both the Southwest LRT Corridor Management Committee and the Metropolitan Council voted to advance this project with an alignment of shallow tunnels through the Kenilworth Corridor. Governor Dayton unambiguously has supported this alignment, saying, “It’s the only option for the line to go forward, and I support the line going forward.”
The Met. Council is now seeking municipal consent from Hennepin County and the five cities the line travels through: Minneapolis, St. Louis Park, Hopkins, Minnetonka, and Eden Prairie. Stay tuned for details about public hearings in these communities. Minneapolis municipal consent is particularly contentious, with critical negotiations underway between the City, the Met. Council, and the Counties Transit Improvement Board (CTIB). As Met. Council Chair Sue Haigh has stated, “Clearly, we’re not going to go forward with a project like this unless the biggest city in the region supports this project.”
Through this municipal consent process the Council is seeking approval on preliminary design plans, which show the footprint of the LRT line and its physical design components. Further engineering in 2014 and 2015 will provide greater details, such as station elements and landscaping features.
Get involved: Joint Public Hearing, Thursday, May 29, 6 PM (Open House 5 PM). Hennepin County Government Center, Minneapolis. Hosts: Met. Council and Hennepin County Regional Railroad Authority. If you live in Minneapolis, please also contact your city council member and Mayor Hodges—ask them to move this project forward!
Future Transit Corridors
Gateway Corridor. The comment period on Gateway Corridor Scoping Study closed on April 16. The study narrowed the options for this corridor to bus rapid transit (BRT) or light rail transit, with alignments adjacent to Hudson Road connecting Woodbury to the Union Depot in Saint Paul. East Metro political leaders generally support BRT in a dedicated right-of-way. This approach would shorten travel times and preserve LRT as an option at some point in the future. The Gateway DEIS, now underway, is expected in early 2015. CTIB is seeking $5 million in state general obligation bonding for Gateway Corridor design, engineering, and project development.
Get involved: Tell Chair Stumpf you want bonding for the Gateway Corridor before the 2014 legislative session ends on May 19.
Bus Rapid Transit
A-Line Arterial Bus Rapid Transit. The Governor recommends $10 million for rapid bus service along Snelling Avenue/Ford Parkway in Saint Paul. This funding will pay for stations and shelters, new buses, and signal systems and technology to speed travel and provide real time travel information. With the proposed $10 million, the A Line will be fully funded and can stay on track to open in 2015.
Get involved: Tell Chair Stumpf you want bonding for the A-Line Corridor before the 2014 legislative session ends on May 19.
Orange Line BRT. The Governor recommends $7 million to purchase right-of-way and design a Lake Street Station on the Metro Orange Line BRT, which will travel on I-35W South between downtown Minneapolis and Burnsville. This new station will provide greatly improved bus connections on the highway and at Lake Street, modern bus station infrastructure, and bicycle and pedestrian connections to local streets and the Midtown Greenway.
Get involved: Tell Chair Stumpf you want bonding for the Orange Line Corridor before the 2014 legislative session ends on May 19.
Red Rock BRT. In March, the Red Rock Corridor Commission voted to proceed with plans for bus rapid transit in this 30-mile corridor from Minneapolis to Hastings. CTIB is seeking $1 million in general obligation bonding to advance Red Rock design, engineering, and project development.
Get involved: Tell Chair Stumpf you want bonding for the Red Rock Corridor before the 2014 legislative session ends on May 19.
Local and Express Bus
Transportation Policy Plan. The Met. Council’s Transportation Policy Plan will lay out future priorities for transit (buses and trains) across the seven-county metro region. Two advisory groups (comprised of policymakers and agency staff) have been meeting for months to draft a plan for public review. Next it will be your turn to weigh in.
Route 30. New bus service connecting North Minneapolis and Nordeast opened March 10. The new route 30 bus also serves the Quarry shopping center on New Brighton Ave. and connects to University Ave. at the Green Line’s Raymond Station in Saint Paul.
Get involved: Ride the 30 to great destinations and stop off at the TLC to say hi!
Photo Credit: Eric Wheeler, Metro Transit (Flickr)
W. 36th St. Protected Bike Lane and Pedestrian Path. The City of Minneapolis is planning improvements on W. 36th Street to provide a pedestrian and bicycle route between Lake Calhoun and Bryant Ave. Public outreach for this project began in the summer of 2012. A public meeting on May 8 provides an opportunity to review the project design concept and provide feedback before plans are finalized and construction begins this summer 2014.
Get involved: Public Meeting, Tuesday, May 6, 6-7 PM, Saint Mary’s Greek Orthodox Church, Minneapolis.
Credit: City of Minneapolis
Hennepin County Bike Plan. The Hennepin County and Three Rivers Park District have worked to update the County’s Bike Plan to reflect comments made by city governments and the public concerning level of comfort, gaps in the current system, and design guidelines for bikeways. Public open house meetings in early May will discuss the draft plan. A finalized plan is expected late this summer 2014.
Get involved: Public Meeting, 4:30-7:30 PM. Wednesday, May 7, Minnetonka Community Center at City Hall, and Thursday, May 8, Central Library, Doty Board Room, Minneapolis. The May 8 event will cover both the Minneapolis Bicycle Master Plan and the Hennepin County Bike Plan.
Statewide Bicycle System Plan. Where do you feel comfortable biking? What destinations do you want to reach by bicycle? What highways affect your biking experience? How should our state prioritize biking improvements? MnDOT wants to know. Your input at a public workshop this month can inform the agency’s current work to develop the Statewide Bicycle System Plan.
Get involved: Public Workshops, 4-6 PM. Wednesday, May 14, Neighborhood House at Wellstone Center, Saint Paul, and Thursday, May 15, U of M Urban Research and Outreach Center (UROC), Minneapolis. Additional workshops in Greater Minnesota through May 8. An open house, 6-7 PM, follows each workshop.
North Minneapolis Greenway. The City of Minneapolis is exploring converting low-traffic streets in north Minneapolis to a greenway with a safe, accessible route for bicyclists and pedestrians. The proposed greenway route follows Irving and Humboldt Avenue N.
Get involved: Explore the proposed route during the North Minneapolis Greenway Open Streets event, Saturday, May 31, 10 AM - 4 PM. Through June 15, residents can take an online survey to weigh in on the proposed project.