Bottineau LRT (Blue Line Extension)

Roads - Rails - Sidewalks - Bikeways
DanPatchToget
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Re: Bottineau LRT (Blue Line Extension)

Postby DanPatchToget » August 16th, 2020, 12:04 pm

I'm always fine with a tunnel, of course, but it's expensive and takes longer and might lead to stops being placed less conveniently to cut costs.
This project is already expensive. Granted it would be more expensive with a tunnel, but lets not pretend the Blue Line Extension running almost entirely at-grade would be cheap. There's also an argument to be made about safety; if we built this on West Broadway would it still be possible to make that corridor pedestrian-friendly? The University Avenue Corridor sure isn't, though that's more of an issue with cars than the Green Line, but the light rail is still a barrier along that corridor.

Also, assuming the tracks would be embedded in concrete along West Broadway, is that going to come back to haunt us? There's been rail corrosion issues with the embedded track in the downtowns and along University Avenue.
Again, I'm personally in support of tunnels and if it were up to me way more of our network would be grade-separated. Whatever we spent on a subway would be worth it.

But I don't think this segment is a particularly strong candidate compared to other places we've chosen to build at-grade. If we didn't choose tunneling for Downtown Minneapolis or Downtown St. Paul or the U or Uptown, what makes it more feasible now? If the answer is that we've decided all those other projects were flawed, and we're now more interested in providing excellent service for urban populations and more willing to pour cash into capital projects, then that's great! We can start with North and also kick off planning to improve existing, more-critical segments. But I don't really see any indication that our politics or leadership are even close to that mindset yet.

And if that's not our mindset, and we're operating under the same priorities and constraints that gave us the existing network, then I don't think the street conditions alone justify a subway. It's an overwide, mostly-straight street in an area that isn't very car-dependant relative to the rest of the region.

As far as pedestrian safety goes, I think a street with center-running trains, improved protected crossings at stations, and one slow lane each way for cars is a strict improvement over the 4+ lane high-speed road we have today, particularly if the LRT is paired with more pedestrian-oriented development (say, some street-facing buildings in existing surface lots).

Regarding durability, I'm not familiar specifically with the issues with existing embedded tracks, but given how common street-running trams are throughout the world, it's hard for me to imagine there isn't an off-the-shelf solution out there.
We didn't choose tunneling for those other segments because we didn't have the political will at the time, and in the case of Uptown it was rigged. Back when an alignment was being considered for Southwest the FTA guidelines would provide money for the easiest, cheapest, and fastest alignment. Of course it was only in-theory that the Kenilworth alignment would meet those guidelines, and we've learned the hard way that that wasn't necessarily the case. Just because those other routes didn't have a tunnel doesn't mean no future routes can have a tunnel or an existing route can eventually be tunneled.

And again, there's the impact businesses will have during construction. Are we going to disrupt businesses on the north side just to, in theory, have an easier and cheaper route, or are we willing to avoid most of that with tunneling?

Just because there's trams around the world doesn't mean they don't have issues with their embedded track. In our region, road salt and sand certainly don't mix well with embedded rails. And if an embedded rail needs to be replaced that's a long and expensive process.

Bakken2016
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Re: Bottineau LRT (Blue Line Extension)

Postby Bakken2016 » August 18th, 2020, 8:00 am

I agree with Eric, tunneling shouldn't be off the table. Look at Seattle, they have gotten FTA funds and they have so many tunnels and elevated guideways in their LRT.

HuskyGrad
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Re: Bottineau LRT (Blue Line Extension)

Postby HuskyGrad » August 18th, 2020, 9:04 am

I would presume Seattle's ability to receive funds for grade-separated guideway is due to the high cost of right-of-way acquisition. We're getting near that tipping point in Portland.

alexschief
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Re: Bottineau LRT (Blue Line Extension)

Postby alexschief » August 26th, 2020, 9:21 am

Friend of the forum Chet Wedgely has uploaded the comments of CMs Ellison and Cunningham at the Corridor Committee meeting.

Here's CM Ellison: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O0_8IJVj2pk

Here's CM Cunningham: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S9YTek4dw1U

SurlyLHT
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Re: Bottineau LRT (Blue Line Extension)

Postby SurlyLHT » August 26th, 2020, 9:36 am

I wouldn't heed much attention to their opinions until after the 2021 election unless there is going to be some sort of meaningful impact from them between now and then. Rumor has it Ellison isn't running again and the Wards will look different after the Census.

Silophant
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Re: Bottineau LRT (Blue Line Extension)

Postby Silophant » August 26th, 2020, 10:22 am

Redistricting won't be done in time for the 2021 election, though - that will use the current ward boundaries, and then we'll have another election in 2023 with new boundaries. I don't know if Ellison will run again, but I have a hard time believing that Ward 5 would elect an anti-transit CM in 2021.

EOst
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Re: Bottineau LRT (Blue Line Extension)

Postby EOst » August 26th, 2020, 12:19 pm

I don't think it's hard to imagine an open-seat race becoming very contentious about Broadway, in ways that get tied into larger area narratives about investment and gentrification. That's not a surefire win for an anti-Broadway-LRT candidate by any stretch, but I don't think it's a slam dunk against it either. I would absolutely expect many or most of the businesses along there to run a "Save Broadway!" campaign no matter what changes were proposed.

It's worth noting that Fernando is up for reelection in 2022 too. She won by a healthy margin in 2018 and is probably safe, but she lost nearly all of North Minneapolis to Blong Yang.

SurlyLHT
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Re: Bottineau LRT (Blue Line Extension)

Postby SurlyLHT » August 26th, 2020, 1:16 pm

When would anything actually happen on this? Wouldn't there have to be new alignment studies and etc? Seems to me we're years from most everything and the economic and political landscape could change in any number of ways before then.

alexschief
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Re: Bottineau LRT (Blue Line Extension)

Postby alexschief » August 26th, 2020, 1:55 pm

As I wrote on the previous page in my summary of the committee call, Met Council staff is hoping to get the project turned around and another public process started by the start of next year. So 2021 should be a busy and critical time for the Blue Line Ext, with some major decisions being made.

Tcmetro
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Re: Bottineau LRT (Blue Line Extension)

Postby Tcmetro » October 6th, 2020, 10:18 am

There is a Corridor Management Committee meeting on 10/8. Gov Walz will be in the meeting it seems.

https://metrocouncil.org/getdoc/80cd273 ... genda.aspx

SurlyLHT
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Re: Bottineau LRT (Blue Line Extension)

Postby SurlyLHT » October 6th, 2020, 10:54 am

I was on a Zoom the W. Broadway Coalition and I think NEON put on a month ago. It was interesting that Met Council said they need a all hands on approach from local partners to get this through the engagement stage. But at the same time they said that city resources are limited with COVID, public safety issues and recession. I wouldn't be surprised if their optimism hits some unexpected reality given the changing landscapes and amount of resources available.

Tcmetro
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Re: Bottineau LRT (Blue Line Extension)

Postby Tcmetro » October 6th, 2020, 11:37 am

Just noticed some materials were posted as well.

https://metrocouncil.org/getdoc/3e4e283 ... ation.aspx

alexschief
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Re: Bottineau LRT (Blue Line Extension)

Postby alexschief » October 8th, 2020, 1:50 pm

Today the Blue Line Extension held another corridor management committee meeting. I think I was the only person not on the committee to call in, so that's moderately embarrassing. I'd invite others to tune in. This is important stuff.

Governor Tim Walz was on the call. I wonder if he decided to drop on after the last call was fairly contentious, with some recriminations about the failure to negotiate with BNSF.

- Walz started the agenda with some remarks. He said, "I believe in the Blue Line Extension... I want to be absolutely clear that our administration believes in [this project]." He thanked the members of the CMC and defended the decision to step away from the BNSF corridor. He said, "I do not believe they will change their position on this now or ever... Let's not be dependent on the whims of [BNSF]... This is a project that is worthy of a long term investment."

- Several committee members chimed in to reinforce the governor, expressing continued support for the line. Mayor Frey, in his comments, spoke about how a realignment of the project could provide a real opportunity to better serve North Minneapolis.

- A representative from the Business and Community Advisory Committees gave a report. People are disappointed by the delay of the project, but resigned to it. Some people who made unspecified investments based on the original alignment are unsurprisingly unhappy. People were frustrated by the lack of communication from the Met Council during the period of negotiation with BNSF.

- A representative from the Harrison neighborhood spoke about how the proposed alignment increased property values and rent in the neighborhood and has led to displacement. Some of the station areas were zoned for TOD, and a small affordable apartment building was replaced by a market rate building (not sure which one) that was allowed by that zoning. The neighborhood is also concerned that a changing alignment will eliminate any opportunity to improve safety on Olson Memorial Highway (although didn't MnDOT already kill opportunities to reduce lanes on the road?). Near-neighbors off of the proposed Van White and Penn Stations want attention paid to what has changed in their neighborhoods.

- Met Council will launch a new engagement process in January 2021, in partnership with The Alliance and Juxtaposition Arts. Effort will be online. Some questions about whether it is possible to do COVID-safe in-person engagement. Options are open to do that. The process will be iterative and can change as conditions change.

Image

- Project staff have created principles for their continuing work, which are pretty obvious. Robbinsdale still wants an effort made towards negotiating with BNSF. I think Robbinsdale said they wanted the "criminal" impacts of the line to be studied? Could I possibly have heard that right? Golden Valley is waiting to comment, understands that the line may be moved out of their territory entirely (yes, it should).

- There was a presentation on the structure of the advisory process for the project. Staff thinks there is an opportunity to reboot committees where appropriate, giving municipalities an opportunity to appoint new people, for a meeting in January or February of 2021. Certainly hope that anyone on here who lives in the project area would consider applying. Golden Valley hops on again to remind people that a changing alignment will probably change the roster of stakeholders somewhat (although there should be more addition than subtraction), and suggests that some of the connections to places like Wirth Park should not be lost in the shuffle.

Next meeting is December 10th.

Trademark
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Re: Bottineau LRT (Blue Line Extension)

Postby Trademark » October 8th, 2020, 2:49 pm

Today the Blue Line Extension held another corridor management committee meeting. I think I was the only person not on the committee to call in, so that's moderately embarrassing. I'd invite others to tune in. This is important stuff.

Governor Tim Walz was on the call. I wonder if he decided to drop on after the last call was fairly contentious, with some recriminations about the failure to negotiate with BNSF.

- Walz started the agenda with some remarks. He said, "I believe in the Blue Line Extension... I want to be absolutely clear that our administration believes in [this project]." He thanked the members of the CMC and defended the decision to step away from the BNSF corridor. He said, "I do not believe they will change their position on this now or ever... Let's not be dependent on the whims of [BNSF]... This is a project that is worthy of a long term investment."

- Several committee members chimed in to reinforce the governor, expressing continued support for the line. Mayor Frey, in his comments, spoke about how a realignment of the project could provide a real opportunity to better serve North Minneapolis.

- A representative from the Business and Community Advisory Committees gave a report. People are disappointed by the delay of the project, but resigned to it. Some people who made unspecified investments based on the original alignment are unsurprisingly unhappy. People were frustrated by the lack of communication from the Met Council during the period of negotiation with BNSF.

- A representative from the Harrison neighborhood spoke about how the proposed alignment increased property values and rent in the neighborhood and has led to displacement. Some of the station areas were zoned for TOD, and a small affordable apartment building was replaced by a market rate building (not sure which one) that was allowed by that zoning. The neighborhood is also concerned that a changing alignment will eliminate any opportunity to improve safety on Olson Memorial Highway (although didn't MnDOT already kill opportunities to reduce lanes on the road?). Near-neighbors off of the proposed Van White and Penn Stations want attention paid to what has changed in their neighborhoods.

- Met Council will launch a new engagement process in January 2021, in partnership with The Alliance and Juxtaposition Arts. Effort will be online. Some questions about whether it is possible to do COVID-safe in-person engagement. Options are open to do that. The process will be iterative and can change as conditions change.

Image

- Project staff have created principles for their continuing work, which are pretty obvious. Robbinsdale still wants an effort made towards negotiating with BNSF. I think Robbinsdale said they wanted the "criminal" impacts of the line to be studied? Could I possibly have heard that right? Golden Valley is waiting to comment, understands that the line may be moved out of their territory entirely (yes, it should).

- There was a presentation on the structure of the advisory process for the project. Staff thinks there is an opportunity to reboot committees where appropriate, giving municipalities an opportunity to appoint new people, for a meeting in January or February of 2021. Certainly hope that anyone on here who lives in the project area would consider applying. Golden Valley hops on again to remind people that a changing alignment will probably change the roster of stakeholders somewhat (although there should be more addition than subtraction), and suggests that some of the connections to places like Wirth Park should not be lost in the shuffle.

Next meeting is December 10th.
I was listening to the meeting too. And yes the robbinsdale mayor was talking about criminal impacts. He also wanted it added to the priorities that we shouldn't study any previously ruled out alignments. Which is a terrible idea. Many things change over time and the Blue Line needs to be rethought.

I sent a question to the committee about will there be grade separation equity with the Southwest LRT line having 3 miles of bridges and tunnels will this extension be able to have tunnels through portions of North Minneapolis. If they are as serious in their commitment to equity as they say they should be doing this.

My preferred alignment would be a stop underneath North Loop before surfacing on Washington Avenue before again going below ground underneath West Broadway until maybe 26th ave N.

Tcmetro
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Re: Bottineau LRT (Blue Line Extension)

Postby Tcmetro » October 8th, 2020, 3:40 pm

Thanks for the write up. I was listening while multitasking so it is much appreciated.

Will be interesting to see how engagement goes and what the results are.

Really hoping it leads to a narrowing of Olson Highway if that route is reused in some way.

alexschief
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Re: Bottineau LRT (Blue Line Extension)

Postby alexschief » October 8th, 2020, 4:14 pm

All I'll say is that if the suburbs are concerned about the "criminal impacts" of this project, then this process could get pretty nasty pretty quick. I'm glad someone else heard that, so I don't feel as though I am going crazy. Chair Zelle very diplomatically avoided the topic, but that's not sustainable.

I know a lot of technical gloss was put over the decision to route the train around North Minneapolis, but it has always been hard to escape the thought that some suburban interests probably viewed avoiding the residents of the Northside as a positive. I don't think that façade will be possible to maintain going forward.

grrdanko
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Re: Bottineau LRT (Blue Line Extension)

Postby grrdanko » October 17th, 2020, 8:28 am

This will probably get pretty ugly. As I see it there are two groups that oppose the Blue Line substantially serving the north side:

- Suburban residents believe that it will bring crime
-North Side residents who are opposed to new amenities because of the gentrification risk

The second group doesn't get as much attention, but they have been pretty vocally opposed to many public investments.

The right use of resources is to put the train on an alignment that serves the north side well. Down Highway 55 and through a golf course doesn't serve anyone. This should be run up Broadway. It's will serve as many people as possible while intersecting with all the north / south bus routes in North Minneapolis.

alexschief
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Re: Bottineau LRT (Blue Line Extension)

Postby alexschief » October 17th, 2020, 11:11 am

To the extent that the latter group exists (as opposed to being a too-convenient-to-check ally for the former group), I don't think they hold sway anymore. The benefits of access to transit are obvious to people, especially as the METRO system expands. As the Stops-For-Us campaign in St. Paul showed a decade ago, communities will mobilize for access to transit, not the reverse. There are ways to ensure that increased land value from a transit investment stays in the community and helps lift people up instead of pushing them out. Not investing in an area because of concerns about gentrification is a direct pathway to disinvestment and decline instead.

grrdanko
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Re: Bottineau LRT (Blue Line Extension)

Postby grrdanko » October 18th, 2020, 8:30 am

There has been 50 years of disinvestment. As a community we should be embarrassed that we have ignored an entire quadrant of the city for an entire generation.

NickP
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Re: Bottineau LRT (Blue Line Extension)

Postby NickP » October 20th, 2020, 9:23 am

That part


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