From an article published today in Finance & Commerce: “Metro Transit is looking to advance study of a streetcar in the Midtown Greenway, better bus service on Lake Street or some combination of those options.” The Midtown Greenway is by all measures an out-of-the-park success, so why would you mess with what is working? Rails to Trails Magazine featured the Midtown Greenway this Winter 2013. According to their article “Between 4,000 and 5,000 people use the trail every day on average, amounting to a whopping 1.5 million trips a year.” That is a hugely successful investment. By comparison, according to the the Wikipedia article, the billion dollar Bottineau light rail line is expected to “serve an estimated 19,500 daily riders by 2030.”
The Minneapolis Streetcar Feasibility Study recommends streetcar on the Greenway for some of these reasons:
• Consistent with broad community sentiment
and specific comments made at stakeholder
• Is felt to have high potential to spur
They also claim that there will be “minimal impacts on bicycle and pedestrian facilities in the Greenway.” Which is pretty debatable. According to the same Rails to Trails Magazine article, there is already “Actually a rush hour on the trail, especially in summer,” says Soren Jensen, executive director of the Midtown Greenway Coalition.
Metro Transit is hosting two meetings next week:
6 p.m. Tuesday, May 21
Colin Powell Center
2924 S. Fourth Ave
6 p.m. Thursday, May 23
2810 S. Nicollet Ave.
“The Project staff will review initial results of possible mode/alignment combinations with the goal of advancing the top alternatives for more detailed study this summer. Staff will be on hand to discuss those options and any other questions related to the project.” http://metrotransit.org/midtown-corridor
If you have any opinions about the Midtown Greenway, and how it is used, this might be a chance to say something. This Rails-to-Trails and back to Rails trend in Minneapolis was the topic of my last post.
“lovely stretch of street, closed to cars, for pedestrians, for bicylists, no motorized traffic if that’s the way to put it, but you can turn it into park space, the hope is that it will bring neighborhoods together, that people will really make an effort to get to know their neighbors better, that people will come from other parts of the city to enjoy the greenway.”
What makes the Greenway special is that it is not your standard, highway, grid-lock commute. Its a pleasure–not a burden. I think that is something you cannot quantify. Actually you can: 4-5,000 riders. Daily.
Many cities across America are choosing to convert former train railways into trails for walking, running, and biking. Groups like the Rail-to-Trails Conservancy have made it their mission to “create a nationwide network of trails from former rail lines and connect corridors to build healthier places for healthier people.”
Minneapolis, on the other hand, is operating on the obstinate position that all railways have been and always will be transportation corridors. The fact that the citizens of Minneapolis have been using the areas around railways as parks and natural trails for decades seems irrelevant to Metro Transit planners, who continue to only see train tracks when everyone else has been seeing so much more.
The Hennepin County Regional Railroad Authority (HCRRA) currently manages the 55 miles of corridors.
The corridors include:
- The 15-mile Lake Minnetonka LRT Regional Trail
- The 8-mile Cedar Lake trails
- The 11-mile Minnesota River Bluffs LRT Regional Trail
- The 5-mile Midtown Greenway
- The 2-mile Northeast Diagonal Trail
- The 13-mile Dakota Rail Trail
What’s amazing is that almost all of these “railroad corridors” have been transformed into sustainable urban spaces, used for recreation and bike transportation.
HCRRA says these spaces are intended to be used for light rail, and that their current use as trails is only “for the interim.”
Light Rail Station Planning for Minneapolis–Tomorrow Night! Express your concerns! Connect with neighbors!
If you would like to participate in the discussion about light rail stations in Minneapolis along the SW Transitway, including parking issues, locations of park and rides, security measures, etc., there will be an open house session in Bryn Mawr:
Thursday – May 2, 2013
(6:00p.m. – 8:00p.m.)
Bryn Mawr Elementary School (Auditorium)
252 Upton Avenue S, Minneapolis
It would be a great place to express your concerns, as well as connect with neighbors!
The following article has some details about where parking lots are planned:
An organization in Ottawa, Canada successfully changed the route of a light rail line away from their area’s parkland
An Ottawa neighborhood group, the Neighbours for Smart Western Rail, successfully appealed to their city to change the route of a proposed light rail line off of the area’s parkland.
An article from the Ottawa Citizen can be found here. “The group was formed after it became clear the city was focusing its planning for a western extension of the downtown LRT line on the “Richmond-Byron corridor,” the former tramway that’s been turned into a long, skinny park along Richmond Road.”
The union that lobbies for light rail in Minnesota, is the same union that now backs the Keystone Pipeline project
The Golden Valley City Council voted to support the Bottineau Transitway project based on a phone survey conducted by the Minnesota Building & Construction Trades Council (which is AFL-CIO). Mayor Shep Harris and Councilmember Joanie Clausen explicitly stated that the phone survey influenced their support of this project. This “phone survey” was not conducted in a scientific way, even the union representative that presented the survey to the council admitted it was not a rigorously designed survey. The union called registered voters in Golden Valley and forwarded the supporters of the light rail project to the voice-mail of council members. The names of people with concerns about the project were not collected.
Unions have a big say in the way transit dollars are spent in Minnesota. And its clear that their interests are not for usable, sustainable transit solutions, but rather, their interests are in bigger wallets for their members.
The Minnesota Building & Trades Council does not want to wait for the community to design a light rail project that will work. They want to push through the proposed route at all costs–and it seems that they are succeeding in this at the cost of billions of taxpayer dollars, at the cost of sustainable future growth in Minneapolis, and at the cost of the parks that Minneapolis is so renowned for. We need to tell our representatives that union interests are not the same as our interests!
Contact your MN Senators and Representatives. Don’t let union backed organizations like, Transit for a Stronger Economy, lobby for more money in the name of sustainable growth. Tell your elected officials that we want real, valuable, sustainable projects!
The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB) and Hennepin County (HC) invite the community to attend a public meetings to explore possible connections between Theodore Wirth Regional Park and the proposed D1 Alignment of the Bottineau Transitway concept located on existing Burlington Northern Sante Fe (BNSF) Railroad property adjacent to Theodore Wirth Regional Park. These opportunities are part of a multi-day collaborative visioning process that will help the MPRB, HC and community best understand the issues and opportunities surrounding the introduction of the proposed Bottineau Transitway to the landscape adjacent to the park.
The community is invited to the following meetings at Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board Headquarters Building, 2117 West River Road:
Wednesday, February 27, 6 to 8 p.m., Community Meeting (Board Room, 2nd Floor): This will be an opportunity for the design team and community to share and discuss key information about the park and proposed transitway.
Saturday, March 2, Noon to 2 p.m., Community Open House (Board Room, 2nd Floor): Community members are invited to attend an open house to review and provide input on concepts and ideas developed by designers based on input from the community and agencies involved in the proposed transitway.
Reservations are recommended, contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The multi-day collaborative visioning process is being developed and funded by the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board and Hennepin County. The information gathered will help the MPRB comments on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS), currently in development, for the Bottineau Transitway and will provide HC and the MPRB with ideas for future design of the transitway. The public meetings will focus on Theodore Wirth Regional Park and the portion of the proposed D1 Alignment of the transitway that runs within the existing rail line adjacent to the park.
Let’s make our thoughts known!
While not a wilderness area in the traditional sense, Peavey Plaza is one of the most interesting open spaces in Minneapolis. If you have had the chance to visit Peavey Plaza as a child, or with children, you are aware of the delight and excitement that anyone gets when jumping from stone to stone next to the roar of falling water. There is a feeling of danger, of real fun.
But, like any fountain that is over 30 years old, it needs attention. But rather than preserve any of the original design, the entire thing may likely be demolished and replaced with a “minimalist” design, basically a flat space jazzed up with some fancy lights.
The Preservation Alliance of Minnesota may have succeeded in adding Peavey Plaza to the National Register of Historic Places, which will make it harder for the City of Minneapolis to proceed, but not impossible.
Minneapolis need to be vigilant or we will lose many of our heritage parks within the space of one decade.