Lots more words below. FWIW, I'm not arguing, just trying to address your thoughtful concerns.
I guess I was considering connectivity for Dan Patch and other "Commuter" rail options for the Minneapolis hub and leaving longer inter-city rail to SPUD. I also completely missed your planned connection around the west end of North Loop onto the spur that serves the Star Tribune printing building. If we are imagining new rail connections, why not simply have a longer detour for longer intercity transport and put the new rail connections outside of the downtown core.
I think there would be a real benefit to making it realistic for inter-city trains to stop in both cities and do so downtown. Right now, the lack of a through-route prohibits such a thing from working, and while this concept makes for quite the circuitous detour off the BNSF mainline, it could offer a real nice opportunity for flexible travel. Population trends being what they are, the center of gravity is only going to keep moving closer to downtown MPLS and the NL is quite an appealing destination. Anything terminating in MPLS could use the current Northstar station or this theoretical one. There appears to be room for at least 1/4 mile of platform in both places.
Are we going to accept the seven new at grade rail crossings of major and minor streets throughout the Northloop? You show an at-grade crossing of the new 4th street boulevard which is meant to replace a major highway connection.
Excellent point. Initially, my flippant response was going to be some combination of "Sure, why not? They'll calm traffic." and "There won't be that many trains anyway." As luck would have it, my family and I had taken a trip to Chicago (we stayed in Evanston) about a week before I posted my redo and since then I've had more time to think about grade separation. Obviously, nothing in MPLS will ever be as population or transit dense as Chicago, but it's fascinating to see how dedicated both Metra and CTA are to elevating (or burying) rail.
Anyway, your feedback sent me digging for topographic maps of the area after driving through the NL this past weekend and noting more variation in elevation than I'd initially thought (Aside, MnTOPO
is fantastic). I have a revised concept linked below, but here's the crossings detail:
- 5th Ave crosses over the rail.
- 6th Ave is at grade and would be a good opportunity for being ped-only between 4th and 5th Streets.
- 8th Ave could be another ped-only connection, but go under the rail platforms.
- 10th Ave, 4th St, 3rd St, and Washington Ave could all go under the rail.
- 2nd St remains at grade.
The east/south end is the most developed, so I adhered fairly closely to existing elevations to dictate the types of crossings. The west/north end has two things going for it which pointed me at elevated rail: 1) the current rail line is higher where it crosses Plymouth Ave than any other point in the NL (8th/5th is the lowest point FWIW), and 2) the relatively undeveloped nature gives more flexibility to go ahead and lower streets.
Also, the distance from the end of your train platform over to Hennepin is over 3/4 mile. Will there be an associated shuttle bus or tram system like at the airport? People already hate the much shorter headhouse at SPUD.
Why would we assume travelers would walk from the station all the way to Hennepin? Assuming anyone could exit the station right about Fulton Brewing, they'd be just over a block from the Blue/Green lines at TF station, just over two blocks from a bus station (and theoretical new streetcar) at 6th/Washington, and about three blocks from the C and D lines at 7th/Olson, plus right next door to whatever new transit could run on the 4th Street boulevard replacing the viaducts.
@Oreos&Milk: No, we don't need to expand any time soon, but we have an opportunity to plan ahead and bank some land. Also, that station example you shared is great and would be ideal for covering both the current and some hypothetical future series of platforms.
Here's my updated idea: https://www.dropbox.com/s/pq7w2fdg9w1tx ... 3.jpg?dl=0
(I took the ghostly station outline out of this one to remove distraction. Assume we could do something like O&M's example spanning from 6th Ave to the trench and around Ford Center to TF.)