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Transportation Options Program Expanding

05/30/2014

By Allison Osberg, MN Green Corps Member (TLC)

 

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Transportation Options workshop attendees visiting Cycles for Change in Saint Paul.

 

Transit for Livable Communities is excited to announce the expansion of our Transportation Options program!

 

Having started as a pilot in the spring of 2013, the program is now expanding from train-the-trainer workshops to a collaborative approach that integrates financial assistance, financial coaching, and transportation consulting for low-income families and individuals.

 

In partnership with social service organizations and financial opportunity centers, the full model of Transportation Options will engage individuals looking to save on transportation expenses and will offer support in using transportation options that, alone, may be more difficult to understand, access, or embrace.

 

This expansion is made possible in part by the Otto Bremer Foundation, the Saint Paul Foundation, and the F.R. Bigelow Foundation. Sincere thanks to these generous funders.

 

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TLC welcomes Pamela Moore, Transportation Options Program Manager

 

As part of the expansion, Pamela Moore joins TLC in the new role of Transportation Options Program Manager. Pamela brings 22 years of experience with program conceptualization, development, implementation, coordination, and management. Her professional and volunteer background includes working in community-based agencies, philanthropic organizations, and educational institutions. She is also a member of the Major Taylor Bicycling Club of Minnesota. Welcome, Pam!

 

Ongoing Workshops

 

As we’ve shared in a previous post, TLC launched the Transportation Options pilot program with a two-day train-the-trainer workshop for staff at Neighborhood House, a social service organization serving low-income residents throughout Saint Paul.

 

Our experiential workshop delivers direct-service staff the resources, knowledge, and experience they need to incorporate transportation options into their ongoing basic needs work. It reinforces that transit, biking, walking, bike sharing, and car sharing are not only realistic solutions to everyday transportation needs but integral options in the path to economic self-sufficiency.


"There is no program I know of that addresses financial benefits of transportation so directly.” (Eva Song Margolis, Director, Eastside Financial Center) 

 

This spring, staff at Project for Pride in Living and Eastside Financial Center completed the workshop as well, acquiring practical information about different transportation options, insight into their potential to improve a person’s economic well-being, health, sense of place, and range of opportunities all at once.

 

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Transportation Options workshops, like the one Project for Pride in Living and Eastside Financial Center staff completed this spring, will continue to be a cornerstone of the expanded program.

 

We are offering additional workshops this summer and fall. Contact us if your organization is interested!

 

New Resources

 

With the expansion of our program, eligible organizations whose direct-service staff complete the Transportation Options workshop can refer their participants—the individuals and families they serve—to apply for a transportation consultant and financial assistance.

 

Transportation consultants will help participants accomplish their transportation and savings goals by assessing their individual needs, barriers, and values and by working with them directly to come up with a new route and routine that is affordable, convenient, and reliable.

 

If you’re interested in becoming a transportation consultant, read about the volunteer position here or contact us directly.

 

“Transportation is definitely a critical point in breaking the cycle of poverty.” (Joan McDonough-Schlecht, Director of Programs, Basic Needs, Neighborhood House)

 

Traditionally, financial assistance for transportation has been geared toward facilitating car ownership. For many people struggling to achieve economic self-sufficiency, however, this often proves unsustainable due to the high cost of operating and maintaining a vehicle. In contrast, the financial assistance now offered through our Transportation Options program helps participants purchase transit passes, car and bike sharing memberships, bicycles, trailers, and other related gear. With these resources, our goal is to foster transportation habits that will serve households and individuals well over the long-term.

 

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 In combination with experiential workshops for direct-service staff, new resources offered through our expanded program will help ensure transit, biking, walking, bike sharing, and car sharing are accessible and empowering options for low-income individuals and families.

 

Our approach builds on the results of surveys conducted in North Minneapolis in 2012. Through those surveys, TLC found that the largest barrier to transportation options is having financial access to them, and the second largest barrier is their perceived safety and convenience.

 

Through an innovative combination of financial assistance, experiential learning, and one-on-one support, we are working to make transportation options more accessible and empowering to populations that have historically been on the margins of transportation conversations, services, and benefits.

 

We’ll look forward to keeping you updated as our implementation of this new program continues.

 

 

Move MN Session Recap & Call to Action

By Dave Van Hattum, Senior Policy Advocate

 

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At the State Capitol earlier this month, TLC and Move MN supporters delivered nearly 1400 letters pushing legislators for more than a band-aid approach to transportation funding.

 

“The future of transportation in Minnesota and the funding for it have to be among the 2015 legislative session’s top priorities.” (Governor Mark Dayton, April 30, 2014)

 

For Transit for Livable Communities, our members, and our allies in the Move MN coalition—who worked together this past legislative session to make transportation investment a priority—this statement from Governor Dayton is a measure of success, but it is also a rallying cry for the year ahead.

 

Growing the Movement

Over the last half year, the Move MN coalition grew to over 180 organizations, businesses, and associations and gathered support from more than 20 cities, 500 townships, and 80 counties. Transportation interests vary widely by geography, by mode, by sector. Nevertheless, Move MN coalition members successfully united around one comprehensive legislative proposal, guided by the key principle of investing in all modes statewide.

Transportation-Day-at-the-Capitol-122-crop-WEB

Move MN united a broad and diverse coalition of groups from around the state. Picture here (L to R), coalition members from AFSCME, Fresh Energy, the American Heart Association, and TLC rally together in the Capitol Rotunda.

 

Moving Legislation Forward

The transportation bills passed by the House and Senate Transportation Committees (HF 2395 and SF 2107) aligned closely with our Move MN proposal, and included funding for transit, roads and bridges, and bicycling and walking throughout the state. The ¾-cent sales tax for metro-area transit, included in the bills, would fund the transit vision TLC has advanced for over a decade. The bills also included the first dedicated funding for bicycle and pedestrian connections in Minnesota. Passing these bills out of both committees was a definitive step forward; similar legislation did not make it through the House committee in 2013.

  Transportation Day at the Capitol 113
House and Senate Transportation Committee Chairs, 
Sen. Scott Dibble (L) and Rep. Frank Hornstein (R), were strong champions at the legislature this year. Both of their committees successfully passed bills that would fund transit, bicycling, walking, roads, and bridges statewide.

 

Pushing Back

Transit for Livable Communities, our members, and Move MN coalition partners pushed hard to keep up momentum for this essential legislation this session. And when the legislature responded by directing only a small amount of money to transportation while sidelining a comprehensive package, we pushed back.

 

After a successful outreach campaign this spring, state senators and representatives across the state received nearly 1400 letters about Move MN from constituents calling for more than a band-aid solution to fix Minnesota’s transportation system. These letters—along with thousands of Move MN postcards and petition signatures, dozens of letters to the editor, weekly phone banks, and numerous stakeholder meetings, rallies, and press conferences throughout the 2014 session—sent the resounding message that Minnesotans need and expect sustainable, long-term funding to address inadequate transit and bike/pedestrian connections, deficient bridges, and aging roads.

 

  BandAid-LetterDelivery-Collage-2x2_WEB
No More Band-Aids for Transportation: Thanks to all who wrote their legislators and delivered letters at the Capitol in May--and to all who took action and volunteered their time on the Move MN campaign this session!

 

While the political winds ultimately prevented a transportation bill from getting to the finish line at the Capitol this year, we have built a strong foundation of support and have positioned transportation funding as the unfinished business of the session.

 

As Senate Transportation Committee Chair Scott Dibble affirmed last week, “Everyone associated with Move MN should be extremely pleased with how far we’ve come in building both the policy and political case for passing a substantial, comprehensive leap forward for transportation in Minnesota.”


Gearing Up

 

Minnesota's transportation problems aren't going to disappear, so neither is our call for a real solution. If we want to see success in the coming year, coalition partners and TLC members will need to expand efforts leading up to the next legislative session and also ensure that transportation is a top issue on the campaign trail this fall.

 

To that end, TLC and Move MN are gearing up for a busy summer. We’re headed to fairs, festivals, bike rides, transit stops, and project openings around the state. And we’re calling on you to help educate and engage the public about transportation needs in your area and to build a broader, stronger movement for legislative action in 2015. Together we can make sure every state legislator knows investment in transportation is both urgent and inevitable. Thanks for standing with us as the fight continues!


Volunteers needed: TLC and the Sierra Club will be talking up Move MN at the Green Line grand opening on Saturday, June 14. We’d love your help!
Sign up to volunteer.

 

Special thanks to Cailin Rogers, campaign organizer, for her work with TLC and Move MN during the 2014 session!

 

New Bike Boulevard among Projects Opening this Summer

By Hilary Reeves, Communications Director

Updated: June 3, 2014


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Bicyclist on Stone Arch and Presidents’ Bike Boulevard in Northeast Minneapolis.


The federal Nonmotorized Transportation Pilot Program (NTPP)—implemented locally under the name Bike Walk Twin Cities—was the brainchild of Minnesota’s longtime Congressman James Oberstar. Sadly, Oberstar died in May, but his vast legacy of accomplishments in transportation continues to expand. In the case of the Bike Walk Twin Cities (BWTC) pilot, there are several bike/ped improvement projects yet to open in Minneapolis, Saint Paul, Richfield, and Fridley. Some of these new BWTC-funded routes will be opening in June and July:

  • Fridley: Main Street bike and walk connections to Northstar commuter rail
  • Saint Paul: Charles Avenue bikeway from Aldine to Park Street
  • Minneapolis:  Stone Arch and Presidents’ Bike Boulevard in Northeast, from the Stone Arch Bridge to St. Anthony Boulevard
  • Minneapolis:  Southern Connector, from East 24th to East 60th Street
  • Minneapolis:  Bluff Street extension of the Dinkytown Greenway, from the west bank of Bridge 9 to the Minneapolis Riverfront, near Gold Medal Park

 

We’ll be profiling these exciting projects for you this summer. First up: a new route in Northeast Minneapolis!

 

Stone Arch and Presidents’ Bike Boulevard


Distance:
  The Stone Arch and Presidents’ Bike Boulevard runs 3.6 miles from Stone Arch Bridge to St. Anthony Boulevard, along 6th Avenue SE, across East Hennepin Avenue, then along Pierce, Fillmore, Polk, and Tyler Avenues NE. The route extends north along Tyler to 37th Avenue NE.

 

Bike routes it connects to:  Mississippi River trails; bike lanes on University Avenue SE and 4th Street SE; 5th Street Bicycle Boulevard, 22nd Avenue Bicycle Boulevard, St. Anthony Parkway (Grand Rounds). The Diagonal Trail is not far away. 

 

PresBB-routemap_WEB 

The Route: Stone Arch and Presidents’ Bike Boulevard, Northeast Minneapolis.

 

Notable infrastructure:

  • Mini traffic circles at two intersections along the route
  • Median at Polk Street NE and Lowry Avenue NE
  • Stop-light detection for bicycles
  • Overhead ped/bike flasher and crosswalk at Hennepin Avenue

 

PedTrafficCircleFillmoreSpring

The project includes new traffic circles at Fillmore and Spring and at Polk and 28th.

 

Things to watch out for:  The bicycle boulevard runs along Hennepin Avenue for a block to get between 5th Street SE and Pierce Street NE. The crossing at Hennepin Avenue is not ideal, but the best solution that could be found for now, given the narrow road bed under railroad tracks. Bicyclists are instructed to ride along the north sidewalk of Hennepin Avenue. As noted above, there is an overhead flashing sign alerting motorists to yield to bikes and pedestrians in the crosswalk to 5th Avenue SE. Hennepin Avenue is two lanes in both directions, so cyclists could choose to take one of these lanes.

 

OverheadFlasherEastHennepin
 

Overhead flashing sign at East Hennepin crossing (note: crosswalk markings not yet added).

 

Amenities for people walking: There are sidewalks all along the route. The medians at Lowry make it easier to cross, whether you’re walking or riding your bicycle. The median is wide enough to wait in the middle for motorized traffic to clear. The overhead flasher at Hennepin also works for people walking.

 

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The new median at Polk and Lowry improves crossing conditions for people on foot or in a wheelchair.

 

Why here?  This new bike boulevard provides a quiet, easy, flat, north-south route on the east side of Northeast Minneapolis. After it crosses Hennepin Avenue, the bicycle boulevard runs parallel to Central Avenue, which is packed with restaurants, shopping, and services. It is also parallel to and a few blocks west of Johnson Street NE, where there are businesses and restaurants (such as Sarah Jane’s Bakery and Hazel’s Northeast). The route runs very near several parks, including Beltrami Park, Northeast Athletic Fields, Deming Heights Park, and (across Central) Columbia Golf Club. It connects easily to restaurants and shopping in Nordeast and along Central Avenue (e.g., Holy Land, East Side Coop, Recovery Bike Shop), as well as (via 22nd Avenue Bicycle Boulevard) the Northeast Library, Edison High School, and the Quarry.

 

Bus, Nice Ride, HOURCAR connections: There are Nice Ride Stations (seasonally) at 6th Avenue SE and University Avenue (not far from the Stone Arch Bridge), at Hennepin and Central Avenues NE (in the Nordeast commercial district), and at 22nd Avenue NE and Central Avenue NE. There are HOURCAR hubs in the Marcy-Holmes neighborhood and at Mill and Main by Father Hennepin Park and St. Anthony Main.

Several Metro Transit routes intersect the bicycle boulevard, making bike-bus connections possible to places all over the metro. Bus routes cross the bicycle boulevard at:

  • University and 4th Street (several express routes and Route 6, serving U of M, Hennepin, Xerxes, France, and Southdale)
  • 8th Street SE (Route 2, serving Franklin Avenue, Riverside Avenue, U of M and 8th Street SE; and Route 4, serving New Brighton, Johnson Street, Bryant Avenue, and Southtown)
  • East Hennepin (Route 25, serving Northtown, Silver Lake, Stinson, Lake of the Isles and Route 61, serving E Hennepin Avenue, Larpenteur Avenue, Arcade Street)
  • Broadway Street NE (Route 30, Broadway Crosstown and Raymond Avenue)
  • Lowry Avenue (Route 32, Robbinsdale, Lowry Avenue, Rosedale)
  • Nearby on Central Avenue (Route 10, Central Avenue, University Avenue, Northtown)

 

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Route 10 and other easily accessible Metro Transit routes make it easy to combine bike and bus trips.

 

Project cost:  $335,570 (construction) + $116,930 (preliminary engineering) = $452,500

 

Expected completion:  We’ll look forward to riding the completed Stone Arch and Presidents’ Bike Boulevard by the end of June 2014. Hope to see you out there! 

 

 

Transportation Options Call for Volunteers

05/07/2014

By Allison Osberg, MN Greencorps Member (TLC)

 

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Transit for Livable Communities is embarking on a new, expanded Transportation Options program that addresses equity and empowerment in the realm of transportation—and you can be a part of this innovative program.

For the past year, we’ve been leading workshops for social service organizations interested in empowering the families they serve to address the high cost of getting around. The cost of transportation can be one of the highest expenses for working families, sometimes even more than housing.

 

This year, the Transportation Options program will be adding a new element of direct assistance to individuals. Volunteers within the Transportation Options program will become consultants who work one-on-one with the participants and clients at participating social service organizations.

 

We are looking to recruit transportation-savvy individuals interested in sharing their knowledge and experience in getting around without depending solely on a car. TLC will match each volunteer Transportation Options Consultant to a family or individual interested in trying multimodal transportation options in order to achieve greater economic self-sufficiency.

 

Consultants are essential in welcoming those families and individuals into the world of Transportation Options. They will serve as a key resource for navigating transit, bicycling, car sharing, and bike sharing systems and for developing a personalized route and routine. This is a great way to help other community members embrace greener, healthier, and more economical modes of transportation—and to benefit from mutual sharing and learning.

 

Transit for Livable Communities will provide training on program specifics and get volunteers up to speed on all transportation modes. We’ll also discuss healthy relationships and boundaries, cultural awareness, and proper safety. A needs-based stipend is available to eligible volunteers.

 

We are looking for volunteer consultants who:

 

  • Understand the importance of transportation on an individual level
  • Are confident and knowledgeable in their transportation options
  • Understand the Twin Cities Metro Transit system
  • Understand bicycles, their basic maintenance, how to ride them in traffic and in all seasons
  • Understand how to use car sharing and bike sharing systems
  • Are, or want to be, connected to their community and transportation resources
  • Have a desire to learn from a neighbor and fellow commuter
  • Can empathize with transportation as a difficulty and challenge (financially, physically, mentally)
  • Are culturally competent and respectful to individuals of all backgrounds
  • Will be in the Twin Cities for the next 6-9 months
  • Show enthusiasm and excitement for the program

 

In addition, being a League Certified Instructor (LCI) of bicycle safety, multi-lingual, or having experience with low-income individuals is a big plus.

If you are interested, have questions, or want to apply to volunteer, contact Allison Osberg at allisono@tlcminnesota.org or 651-789-1403.

 

 

System Update: Rail, Bus, Bike, Walk

05/06/2014

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:

 

Light Rail

 

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 bottineau@co.hennepin.mn.us through May 29.

  Bottineau-alternatives-DEIS_WEB

Source: bottineautransitway.org

 

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.

  A-Line-Bus-Metro-Transit_WEBCredit: Metro Transit


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!

  Route-30--photocredit-Eric-Wheeler-Metro-Transit_Flickr_WEB

Photo Credit: Eric Wheeler, Metro Transit (Flickr)


Bike/Walk Network

 

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.

  W36th-proposed-cycletrack-creditCityMpls_WEB

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.

 

North-minneapolis-greenway-rendering-credit-Community Design Group
Credit: Community Design Group

 

 

Six Local Transit Projects Competing for Federal Funding

By Barb Thoman, Executive Director

 

In the Twin Cities metro area, six transit projects totaling $36 million are vying for $20 million in available federal funding.

 

The federal CMAQ program funds projects that reduce traffic congestion and improve air quality. Dollars are allocated through the Metropolitan Council and its Transportation Advisory Board (TAB).

 

The first three projects listed here received the highest rating in the initial scoring process:

 

1. Improved bus stations at Lake Street and Interstate 35W to replace the dismal facilities there today. The project would improve facilities for local bus passengers on Lake Street and for express bus passengers connecting at I-35W and Lake Street. Over 30 bus routes connect to these stations. The grant request from Metro Transit is $7 million of a $41 million project cost. The project is estimated to increase use of the I-35W/Lake Street stations by 1,100 riders per day.

 

LakeStreetTransitStop-CurrentvsPlanned_creditMetroTransit_WEB

Credit: Metro Transit

 

2. Mall of America Transit Station Renovation and Expansion. This project would improve the Mall of America Transit Station by expanding the facility to serve more bus routes, reconfiguring the site so buses don’t cross the light rail tracks, and improving safety and access for passengers. The grant request is $7 million of a $21 million project cost. Operational savings from the project are estimated to be $1 million annually. The project is estimated to increase use of the MOA station by 1,100 riders per day.

 

3. Construction of B-Line Bus Rapid Transit from Union Depot in Saint Paul along West 7th Street to the MSP Airport and Mall of America. The project would improve passenger waiting, speed up passenger boarding, provide real-time trip information, and include other improvements. The grant request from Metro Transit is $7 million of a $14 million total project cost. The project is expected to increase ridership by 1,700 riders per day.

 

B-Line-BRT-West7th_WEB

Credit: Metro Transit

 


4.
New Southwest LRT Park-and-Ride and Public Plaza. This project includes a new parking structure for 240 vehicles and a new public plaza in Hopkins at Excelsior Boulevard and 8th Avenue serving the Southwest light rail line. The grant request from City of Hopkins is $7 million of a $12.2 million project cost. Service is estimated to serve 234 new daily riders.

 

5. Bus Service Expansion in Shakopee, Prior Lake, and Scott County. Funding would be used to purchase four buses for a new community-run bus service to connect with Southwest light rail, which is scheduled to open in 2019. The grant request from this city/county proposal is $0.96 million of a $1.2 million project cost. Service is estimated to serve 750 new daily riders.

 

6. Improvements to Cedar Grove Transit Station. This project would change the configuration of this bus station and add an enclosed walkway to provide a direct bus and passenger connection on Cedar Avenue/Highway 77 in Eagan. The improvements would reduce the travel time on each bus route by 10 minutes and reduce operating needs by one bus per day. The grant request from Metro Transit is $7 million of a $15 million total project cost. Operational savings from the project are estimated to be $400,000 annually. The project is estimated to increase use of the Cedar Grove Station by 150 new riders per day.

 

Our take: The project implementation year for this round of funding is 2017. With that in mind, TLC would prioritize projects that can be implemented in 2017 or before. Since Southwest LRT will not open until at least 2019, the two corresponding projects (#4 and #5 above) can be considered in the next solicitation. We applaud the Council/TAB for identifying equity considerations as it develops funding recommendations. We continue to be concerned about the need for improved shelters and signage on the bus system as a whole.

 

While receiving CMAQ funding will be a win for any of the projects on this list, we have to lament that so little funding is available for transit expansion. That is why we are strong supporters of Move MN. We also believe that since the Lake Street station on I-35W increases the capacity of the highway, more of this project should be funded with state and federal highway dollars.

 

The Transportation Advisory Board will make its CMAQ funding recommendation on May 21 and the Metropolitan Council will act on the recommendation on June 11. Stay tuned.

 

 

Living Car-Free & Car-Lite

05/05/2014

By Allison Osberg, MN GreenCorps Member (TLC)

 

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The first Transportation on Tap of 2014!

 

Can you imagine all your transportation costs for an entire year amounting to less than $100?

 

Ifrah Mansour, a panelist from our recent Transportation on Tap event, says she couldn’t see herself paying anything more.

 

For the commuter that relies heavily on a car, the $100 figure might be unthinkable, but for the panelists and much of the crowd at TLC’s discussion on car-free and car-lite living this month, it wasn’t a far-fetched reality. On the contrary, it was a reality some were already embracing.

 

Ifrah_mansour_WEB

Ifrah Mansour lives car-free in South Minneapolis.

 

Ifrah lives in South Minneapolis and has been car-free her whole life. “It’s very unheard of in my car-loving Somali community,” she explains. To get to work, school, and play, she makes her trips walking, biking, and occasionally busing.

 

Our second panelist, Jordan Olsen, a Saint Paul native, does own and use a car but has been bike commuting in Minneapolis year-round for the past five years. He pays more on transportation than Ifrah but only a small fraction of the AAA estimate ($9,122) to own and operate his vehicle each year. He estimates he spends about $1,500 annually—mostly on insurance.

 

Economics aren’t the only reason Ifrah and Jordan avoid relying solely on a car.

 

Traffic, parking, safety, and health all contribute to why Ifrah and Jordan stick with other transportation options—even in the coldest months. While they admit that it’s not always easy to live car-free or car-lite, motor vehicles have not necessarily proven convenient and neither can imagine themselves relying heavily on a car for the foreseeable future.

 

Ifrah cites the social benefits that come with walking and biking: being able to stop and talk to passersby, pull over for a spontaneous pit stop, and be more a part of one’s community.

 

“I think also we are slowly becoming aware of our impact as individuals on the health of our planet,” Jordan says.

  Jordan_olsen_WEB

Saint Paul-native Jordan Olsen lives car-lite, relying more on his bike than his car to get around.

 

Despite the many reasons for driving less, the alternatives are not always self-evident. As the Transportation on Tap conversation got rolling, it evolved into almost a live advice-column scenario—one with outright enthusiasm, encouragement, and comradery.

 

I’m going to start bicycling to Plymouth every day from Minneapolis. I’ve never been out that way. How do I even begin to find a route?

I never thought that I’d be into apps, but I love them. Has anyone tried OMG Transit?

I rely on my bike to get everywhere. I’m thinking about selling my car, but then what would I do if I was injured?

 

These are just a few of the many questions asked that night. Folks were quick to jump up from their seats, join us by the stage, and contribute their questions, anecdotes, and advice.

 

Do a test run in Plymouth when you don’t have the stress of being somewhere on time or with all your business gear. Ask locals; they’re almost always happy to help.

A developer of OMG Transit actually was just here, but I can say that I think the app works great—and I’m not even affiliated with the company.

First of all, make sure you have insurance for any injury. Then, if you can’t bike, consider your transit and car sharing options. Check into Metro Mobility.

 

When it was noted that the panel skewed young and healthy, a man in his fifties approached the microphone and explained how he avoided going long distances by bike because he worried about his knees. When he finally decided to just give it a try, he was pleasantly surprised by how good he felt afterward.

 

Judging by the crowd, it seems that if the possibility is there to get around without a car—or use a car less—the pros outweigh the cons for many individuals of all backgrounds, ages, gender, family size, and physical condition.

 

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Many audience members jumped up to share questions and suggestions during the lively conversation moderated by TLC's Allison Osberg (far right).

 

“The multi-decade trend of declining zero-vehicle households appears to have played itself out,” concludes the AASHTO report Commuting in America 2013. “The count of zero-vehicle households is now increasing.”

 

Here in the Twin Cities, bicycling, walking, and transit ridership are all on the rise, car sharing and bike sharing are growing, and the number of zero-vehicle households is nearing 90,000. Still, many jobs in our region are inaccessible by bus or train. Many streets still are not bike or pedestrian friendly.

 

Transit for Livable Communities is working to make car-free and car-lite living more feasible options by securing dedicated transportation funding for transit, bicycling, and walking via the Move MN campaign. Through our Transportation Options program, TLC also is addressing transportation as a basic need and increasing knowledge about the asset-building potential of options like biking, walking, transit, car sharing, and bike sharing for families and individuals working toward greater economic self-sufficiency.

 

I find that even as we work toward better transportation infrastructure, education, and funding, it’s affirming to know that people who want to decrease car use and expand other options are part of a growing movement. Thanks to Ifrah, Jordan, and all­ who joined us at Transportation on Tap this month for leading by example and for contributing to an informed, encouraging discussion!

 

Save the date for TLC's next Transportation on Tap event: Tuesday, June 3, 5-7 PM, Republic (Seven Corners), Minneapolis. RSVP.

 

 

Know Your Sidewalk: A Step to Creating More Walkable Streets

By Hilary Reeves, Communications Director

 

Editor’s Note: This piece by TLC’s Hilary Reeves originally ran in the Southwest Journal on April 9 as part of her regular “Spokes & Soles” column.

 

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 Curb to storefront: sidewalk width plays a big role in our pedestrian experience.

 

Is there anything as commonplace in our lives that we have less familiarity with than the basic components of our streets?

 

Certainly, there is a lively history of engagement with urban planning, from famous rebuilds of cities, such as of Paris in the 19th century or the early 20th century design ideal of curvy residential streets that was part of the Garden City movement (think of some Edina neighborhoods, for example) or the New Urbanist push for neighborhoods with sidewalks and a mix of development.

 

We’ve also had epic fights to preserve neighborhoods from highway projects. On a national basis, Jane Jacobs’s classic work, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, came out of one such fight in New York City. Locally, Interstate 94 plowed through African American communities in Saint Paul and Minneapolis, forging a long-lasting anger and suspicion of transportation projects.

 

We think of our streets as “ours,” especially the ones that pass in front of where we live, or the ones we walk or bicycle or drive daily to get places. But do we have an ordinary, everyday sense of how transportation planners view the swaths of real estate called streets that fall between one property line and another? We probably know far more about how houses are built (roof, walls, foundations, even soffit, fascia) or where food comes from (whether it’s our garden or the freezer case at the market) than we do the basic components of our streets.

 

For example, have you ever considered the components of a sidewalk? There are four parts, according to the Federal Highway Administration, which in turn credits Portland, OR, for creating the following zones in order to improve the experience of people walking, including people with disabilities.

 

  1. Curb zone
  2. Planter or furniture zone
  3. Pedestrian zone
  4. Frontage zone

 

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From left to right: curb zone, planter or furniture zone, pedestrian zone, frontage zone. 

 

The curb zone (6 inches to 2 feet wide) is pretty basic—the part right next to the roadway. It’s no surprise that curbs are raised to keep excess water and vehicles off the sidewalk. People who are visually impaired rely on the curb to mark the border between the sidewalk and moving traffic. Also called the transition zone, this is the space where people get in and out of cars, if on-street parking exists.

 

Next in from the curb is what’s called the planter or furniture zone, an area (2 to 10 feet wide) for various necessary stuff: utility poles, fire hydrants, signs, trees, bus shelters, street lights, benches, and (important in our climate) plowed snow. Whether paved or planted with trees, this zone is meant to keep all the obstructions out of the pedestrian zone. It also provides a buffer between the walkway and moving traffic.

 

The pedestrian zone is the part of the sidewalk corridor where people actually walk. It has to be at least 4 feet wide and has to meet the standards of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). It should be smooth and flat, without fancy pavers or decorative elements (put these in the furniture or frontage zones), and should provide as direct a route as possible. A width of 5 feet is fine for a neighborhood sidewalk, but more is needed in business districts or transit corridors where there’s a higher flow of people walking.

 

Farthest from traffic and closest to the property line, the frontage zone (from 2 to 6 feet wide) provides a buffer between the person walking and buildings, storefronts, walls, or fences. In a commercial corridor, it provides space for doors to open, shopkeepers to place a sandwich board or, if wide enough, restaurants to put some tables and chairs.

 

“The width of the sidewalk corridor is one of the most significant factors in determining the type of pedestrian experience that the sidewalk provides,” according to the FHWA. The total sidewalk should be from 8.5 to 12 feet wide. When less is available, first priority goes to creating a clear walkway for people with disabilities, meaning that other uses may have to be restricted. There are ways to grab more space, such as adding bump-outs at intersections or bus stops. (See the Urban Street Design Guide published by the National Association of City Transportation Officials for a wealth of ideas.)

 

Thanks to my former co-worker Tony Hull, now of Toole Design Group, for first clueing me into the zones—and giving me some background for this piece. Hopefully, as he says, understanding the sidewalk’s zones will be a step in developing a common language that planners and residents can use to create more vibrant, interesting, and walkable streets.

 

 

Remembering a Transportation Champion

 

By Barb Thoman, Executive Director

 

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It is a seismic moment in the transportation world when a leader of the stature of James Oberstar dies. Oberstar was a long-serving representative from Minnesota, but he was also an international giant in the world of transportation.

 

In his decades in Congress, Oberstar worked in a bipartisan way to forge a new vision for transportation that recognized how transportation underpins so much of our lives, how goods get to market, how people get to work, how children get to school. He set in motion and in policy a comprehensive, multimodal view of transportation that impacts the nation and world in positive ways every day.

 

At Transit for Livable Communities, we supported Congressman Oberstar’s vision for transportation. And we were specifically involved in carrying it out as administrators of the federal Nonmotorized Transportation Pilot Program he championed. Through this program, Congress charged four communities across the nation to test the potential of bicycling and walking to move people, improve health, and reduce air pollution.

 

In the Minneapolis area, the pilot program, known as Bike Walk Twin Cities, led to an expansion of the network for bicycling and fostered innovation, from bike sharing to community bike/walk centers. It contributed significantly to huge increases in bicycling and walking from 2007 to 2013. Congressman Oberstar was there at the beginning of Bike Walk Twin Cities, leading a bike ride at the University of Minnesota campus, and with the vision to see what this pilot could inspire. His leadership in creating this program has engendered a new commitment—by elected officials, transportation professionals, and communities—to making sure our transportation systems serve everyone.

 

Congressman Oberstar’s legacy and passion for transportation also extends beyond Bike Walk Twin Cities. He spoke excitedly and in fluent French about the TGV high-speed trains in France. Under his leadership, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee initiated the federal New Starts Program that has funded many new rail lines across the US, including our own Hiawatha (Blue Line) and Central Corridor (Green Line) light rail. Congressman Oberstar helped to secure early funding for the renovation of Union Depot in Saint Paul, which will begin serving Amtrak trains this week. The wildly popular Safe Routes to School program was one of the programs of which he was most proud.

 

We are saddened by the death of such a great leader and a good friend. We also are committed, like so many others he inspired, to working toward the vision of transportation as pivotal to health and prosperity for all. As people travel this state’s and this county’s growing network of bike routes, we hope they will tip their helmets to Congressman Oberstar for his vision and leadership.

 

 

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