By Joe Klein, Move MN Organizing Intern (TLC)
The past two weeks have been very exciting for transportation in Minnesota!
A Grand Opening
Last Saturday, we celebrated the grand opening of Green Line light rail. Despite the wind and rain, over 45,000 people came to ride the Green Line on its first day of service, taking advantage of the free rides available all weekend. Stations and neighborhoods up and down the line hosted festivals and outdoor events to celebrate the historic occasion. Some of these unfortunately were cut short by stormy weather. Nevertheless, it was fantastic to see people from around the region come together to enjoy the years of work on the Green Line finally paying off!
For the first time in over 60 years, the Twin Cities are joined by rail once again. Congratulations to all who have worked to make this project a reality and especially to the residents, businesses, and organizations along the corridor. It's been incredible seeing how light rail has already changed the metro, and we look forward to the future progress that will come about because of this new line and new bus, bike, and sidewalk connections as well.
Opening day festivities: Executive Director Barb Thoman spoke at the Raymond Station ceremony near our office just before the first trains started rolling. Our large-scale interactive map highlighed neighborhood destinations and easy ways to reach them from Raymond Station. (Thanks to MCEA for partnering on this project!) Photo credits: TLC.
TLC and the Sierra Club teamed up and recruited over 60 volunteers to talk to community members about the Move MN campaign during the grand opening. We had hundreds of conversations—on trains, on platforms, and at station celebrations—about why transportation funding must be a priority in 2015. Our amazing volunteers collected nearly 800 postcards from individuals that support Move MN and want Minnesota to keep moving forward on transit! It was very exciting to see so much enthusiasm for the Green Line and also to build momentum for more great projects like it.
A Committed Coalition
Earlier this month, dozens of organizations from across the state came together for a coalition-wide Move MN meeting. The day was an important opportunity for coalition members to exchange ideas and reinforce their commitments to the campaign. We reflected on the progress that we’ve made together so far, and discussed how to move forward to ensure a strong bill is passed in 2015 to fund transit, bicycling and walking connections, and good roads.
Representative Frank Hornstein and Senator Scott Dibble—two of the legislature’s strongest transportation champions—dropped by to energize the crowd. The room was filled with a diverse group of allies who represented many different organizations and areas, but all were united in their support for Move MN.
A Key Announcement
We are very pleased to announce that Dave Van Hattum, TLC's Senior Policy Advocate, is now a co-chair of the Move MN campaign. Dave will be leading coalition efforts along with Margaret Donahoe, Executive Director of the Minnesota Transportation Alliance. TLC has always been a leader in the movement for a well-connected, multimodal transportation system in Minnesota, and Dave's role as a Move MN co-chair reflects this. At the same time, this campaign is truly a team effort. TLC and Move MN are lucky to have many invaluable partners in this coalition, and we all will be working closely with one another to make transportation a top priority at the Capitol next year.
With the opening of the Green Line, and the growing support for Move MN, we continue to build momentum for a stronger transportation system in Minnesota! Stay tuned for more summer volunteer opportunities with TLC, and look for Move MN at these upcoming events:
- Saturday, June 21 - Hennepin County Fair, Corcoran
- Saturday, June 21 - Imagine Ayd Mill Linear Park, Saint Paul
- Sunday, June 29 - Twin Cities Pride Parade, Downtown Minneapolis