Bottineau LRT (Blue Line Extension)

Roads - Rails - Sidewalks - Bikeways
blo442
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Re: Bottineau LRT (Blue Line Extension)

Postby blo442 » August 4th, 2020, 12:00 pm

I know some armchair traffic engineers might take issue with this assertion, but based on conversations I've had with a rail staff person at MT, there is no E-W "over" street in North Minneapolis wide enough to accommodate at grade two-way LRT and auto traffic safely. (Except Olson Hwy but that ship has sailed)

Look at 5th St downtown as an analogue to what Broadway LRT might look like. Both have 80' ROW. 40' width is generally reserved for the LRT & platforms/median. (Yes, there are some places in the LRT system where this drops to 30', but those correlate with the places where people get hit by trains because there is no safe center island when crossing. Many MT planners/engineers would have liability concerns with continued use of that design) 40' LRT ROW, plus 11' sidewalk/buffer on each side a la University, leaves 18' for cars on the wider section, 12' in the crescent. That's a very very tough pill to swallow politically, and has its own safety problems: can we allow auto access across the tracks to businesses on the "wrong" side?

In the end, do those concerns outweigh the costs of tunneling? Or might BRT come out on top when alternatives are re-analyzed due to the lower ROW impacts/ability to run in mixed traffic?

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Re: Bottineau LRT (Blue Line Extension)

Postby Silophant » August 4th, 2020, 12:14 pm

I don't think anyone suggesting a Washington to Broadway routing has thought about it in any more depth than "We need to get the train from the North Loop to Robbinsdale, the 14 goes from the North Loop to Robbinsdale, just have the train do that".

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Re: Bottineau LRT (Blue Line Extension)

Postby Record Machine » August 4th, 2020, 12:37 pm

Elevate it from Roy to N Memorial right down Broadway.

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Re: Bottineau LRT (Blue Line Extension)

Postby Bakken2016 » August 4th, 2020, 12:45 pm

Basically lets not be cheap with a transit project that will serve lots of people!

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Re: Bottineau LRT (Blue Line Extension)

Postby mister.shoes » August 4th, 2020, 1:04 pm

The TCB article mentioned using Washington as the "Up" to Broadway's "Over" in place of Lyndale. I found that to be interesting from a geometry PoV...
Yeah, I'd love to know what people are thinking, because I had a very hard time imagining how to get the train from Target Field Station to somewhere like Washington and 10th. The only possible solution involves a lot of slow street running, slow curves, and probably some elevated sections. The pinch point at Metro Transit's driveway between the new MTPD building and the Junction Flats seems difficult to manage. The entire enterprise seems incompatible (and hypocritical?) with the stated worry about travel times through North Minneapolis.
Unlike most of my musings on routing of transportation, I've spent zero time inspecting grade changes and ROW width and corner angles and whatnot on this one. Working solely from satellite imagery, I imagined the track leaving Target Field Station and landing on 6th Ave, taking a right onto 7th St, taking another right onto Oak Lane/Tenth Ave, then left onto Washington. None of those turns are a full 90°, though again see note above about grades and ROW.

Further north, I thought the tracks could depart Washington...
a) around 18th Ave, angling to the NW across 94 before landing on Broadway near 4th Street (w/ on/off ramps to/from 94 realigned a little) OR
b) just past Broadway, again angling to the NW across 94 before landing on 21st Ave (pissing off Kemps) and continuing along 21st to a block or two past MPS to join Broadway just east of the curve OR
c) just past Broadway, curving enough to the north to cross over a [realigned] 94 off ramp before landing on the north side of Broadway near 4th Street

None of these do anything for the ROW problems on Broadway itself, but ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
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Re: Bottineau LRT (Blue Line Extension)

Postby DanPatchToget » August 4th, 2020, 1:13 pm

A few points I'd like to make:
1) The Blue Line has to be extended somewhere. Through-routing is more efficient and allows more possibilities for a one-seat ride.

2) Let's not pretend suburbs don't exist. Two of the busiest transit stations in Minnesota are located in Twin Cities suburbs (Mall of America in Bloomington and Brooklyn Center Transit Center). So where ever the Blue Line Extension ends up, it will be in a suburb, but that doesn't mean it can't also serve urban residents. Southwest LRT via Uptown, had it been built, is a case in point as the travel time was nearly the same as the Kenilworth route while serving many more people and jobs.

3) We might have to bite the bullet and go with underground light rail through all or part of North Minneapolis, but of course that will require planners and politicians to be brave enough to suggest that. I don't see any at-grade options that are feasible assuming they want the new alignment as close to the original alignment as possible, and I'm sure businesses along Plymouth, West Broadway, or any other arterial street in North Minneapolis don't want to deal with the construction impacts that University Avenue businesses had to deal with during Green Line construction.

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Re: RE: Re: Bottineau LRT (Blue Line Extension)

Postby David Greene » August 4th, 2020, 2:07 pm


Look at 5th St downtown as an analogue to what Broadway LRT might look like.
But it doesn't have to look like that at all, right? There are lots of adjacent mostly empty parking lots to extend ROW and at pinch points we can do things like share lanes with general traffic.

I'm just thinking of the to of my head here. Certainly others will have better ideas.

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Re: Bottineau LRT (Blue Line Extension)

Postby Anondson » August 4th, 2020, 2:15 pm

If there’s thoughts of a shift an underground through part of North, maybe go full Met Council rail planner and extend the tunnel through downtown such that all the lines can be migrated to the underground when done. Say all the way to about 4th and 11th.

Just a gonzo idea for us.

blo442
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Re: RE: Re: Bottineau LRT (Blue Line Extension)

Postby blo442 » August 4th, 2020, 3:19 pm

Look at 5th St downtown as an analogue to what Broadway LRT might look like.
But it doesn't have to look like that at all, right? There are lots of adjacent mostly empty parking lots to extend ROW and at pinch points we can do things like share lanes with general traffic.
Sure, this could be a possible outcome to preserve auto access. (although it has its own issues, like land acquisition is a project manager's nightmare & rail operators aren't going to be happy merging into general traffic) Either way, the process is going to be messy and turn a lot of project stakeholders into opponents. I know I'm awfully cynical compared to most others on this board, but I guess that's what happens after a few years working in engineering. :)

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Re: Bottineau LRT (Blue Line Extension)

Postby DanPatchToget » August 4th, 2020, 5:55 pm

Here's a map of the alignment I think they should do. North of Robbinsdale it's very similar to the original but would take lanes away from Bottineau Boulevard instead of being on BNSF right-of-way.

https://www.google.com/maps/d/edit?mid= ... sp=sharing

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Re: Bottineau LRT (Blue Line Extension)

Postby Bakken2016 » August 4th, 2020, 5:58 pm

Here's a map of the alignment I think they should do. North of Robbinsdale it's very similar to the original but would take lanes away from Bottineau Boulevard instead of being on BNSF right-of-way.

https://www.google.com/maps/d/edit?mid= ... sp=sharing
I like this, get this in front of planners!


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Re: Bottineau LRT (Blue Line Extension)

Postby alexschief » August 5th, 2020, 9:07 am

I know some armchair traffic engineers might take issue with this assertion, but based on conversations I've had with a rail staff person at MT, there is no E-W "over" street in North Minneapolis wide enough to accommodate at grade two-way LRT and auto traffic safely.
Not a traffic engineer, but I work with them. Traffic engineers love to pretend that their work is an exact science, but it's truthfully extremely political. The standards are the standards until they are not. The engineers at MnDOT and Metro Transit may prefer what they prefer, but it is not a fact of geometry that light rail trains could not run on Broadway (let's put aside the idea that Minneapolis' modal priority is supposed to put transit ahead of cars, so technically we should be debating whether there's space for cars on Broadway after peds, bikes, and transit has been accommodated), it's a fact of political geometry. Trains in downtown Houston (!!) for instance, operate in an 80' ROW.

I additionally don't mean to dismiss the safety concerns, but there are plenty of ways to design for safety, a median island is not the only option.
Here's a map of the alignment I think they should do. North of Robbinsdale it's very similar to the original but would take lanes away from Bottineau Boulevard instead of being on BNSF right-of-way.

https://www.google.com/maps/d/edit?mid= ... sp=sharing
The biggest issue with this is that there needs to be a station between Emerson and Fremont Avenues, to provide a direct transfer to the D Line. The station near Penn is also probably a bit of an awkward distance away.

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Re: Bottineau LRT (Blue Line Extension)

Postby DanPatchToget » August 5th, 2020, 10:09 am

I know some armchair traffic engineers might take issue with this assertion, but based on conversations I've had with a rail staff person at MT, there is no E-W "over" street in North Minneapolis wide enough to accommodate at grade two-way LRT and auto traffic safely.
Not a traffic engineer, but I work with them. Traffic engineers love to pretend that their work is an exact science, but it's truthfully extremely political. The standards are the standards until they are not. The engineers at MnDOT and Metro Transit may prefer what they prefer, but it is not a fact of geometry that light rail trains could not run on Broadway (let's put aside the idea that Minneapolis' modal priority is supposed to put transit ahead of cars, so technically we should be debating whether there's space for cars on Broadway after peds, bikes, and transit has been accommodated), it's a fact of political geometry. Trains in downtown Houston (!!) for instance, operate in an 80' ROW.

I additionally don't mean to dismiss the safety concerns, but there are plenty of ways to design for safety, a median island is not the only option.
Here's a map of the alignment I think they should do. North of Robbinsdale it's very similar to the original but would take lanes away from Bottineau Boulevard instead of being on BNSF right-of-way.

https://www.google.com/maps/d/edit?mid= ... sp=sharing
The biggest issue with this is that there needs to be a station between Emerson and Fremont Avenues, to provide a direct transfer to the D Line. The station near Penn is also probably a bit of an awkward distance away.
The D Line will have a stop at 7th & Bryant which is right next to the proposed Near North Station. While the station under Penn may look awkward, this map doesn't show exactly where station entrances would be. It just indicates there would be a station in that vicinity.

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Re: Bottineau LRT (Blue Line Extension)

Postby MNdible » August 5th, 2020, 11:09 am

Trains in downtown Houston (!!) for instance, operate in an 80' ROW.
This is a straw man. Losing one street in a downtown grid is entirely different than losing Broadway Avenue, which is the primary commercial street for North Minneapolis and has no comparable parallel street to pick up the slack. I'm not arguing that we shouldn't take some lanes of auto traffic to facilitate a better routing for this line, but an option that would cause Broadway to cease being a functioning through street is... not good.

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Re: Bottineau LRT (Blue Line Extension)

Postby alexschief » August 5th, 2020, 1:14 pm

Trains in downtown Houston (!!) for instance, operate in an 80' ROW.
This is a straw man. Losing one street in a downtown grid is entirely different than losing Broadway Avenue, which is the primary commercial street for North Minneapolis and has no comparable parallel street to pick up the slack. I'm not arguing that we shouldn't take some lanes of auto traffic to facilitate a better routing for this line, but an option that would cause Broadway to cease being a functioning through street is... not good.
I think you misread what I wrote.

The point was that suitable sidewalks, car lanes, and LRT lanes and stations can co-exist in a 80' right-of-way, which they do in downtown Houston and many other places around the world. I specifically said that I was not literally applying the city's modal framework, I think car lanes on Broadway are inevitable in the final condition, I am not calling for Broadway to be closed to cars.

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Re: Bottineau LRT (Blue Line Extension)

Postby MattW » August 5th, 2020, 3:48 pm

Here's a map of the alignment I think they should do. North of Robbinsdale it's very similar to the original but would take lanes away from Bottineau Boulevard instead of being on BNSF right-of-way.

https://www.google.com/maps/d/edit?mid= ... sp=sharing
I like this too, but I don't see the Met Council garnering the political will for a TBM. I think we'd have to go with a top-down cut and cover on existing roadways.

As mapped, the turn from Emerson to Broadway would present some eminent domain challenges.

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Re: Bottineau LRT (Blue Line Extension)

Postby DanPatchToget » August 5th, 2020, 4:03 pm

If we're willing to TBM under the airport then we can TBM under North Minneapolis so there's as very little disruption on the surface as possible.

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Re: Bottineau LRT (Blue Line Extension)

Postby EOst » August 6th, 2020, 4:56 pm

The point was that suitable sidewalks, car lanes, and LRT lanes and stations can co-exist in a 80' right-of-way, which they do in downtown Houston and many other places around the world. I specifically said that I was not literally applying the city's modal framework, I think car lanes on Broadway are inevitable in the final condition, I am not calling for Broadway to be closed to cars.
Where in downtown Houston? The Red Line on Main Street has a 90' ROW, and the other lines run on a one-way pair.

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Re: Bottineau LRT (Blue Line Extension)

Postby alexschief » August 6th, 2020, 6:22 pm

The point was that suitable sidewalks, car lanes, and LRT lanes and stations can co-exist in a 80' right-of-way, which they do in downtown Houston and many other places around the world. I specifically said that I was not literally applying the city's modal framework, I think car lanes on Broadway are inevitable in the final condition, I am not calling for Broadway to be closed to cars.
Where in downtown Houston? The Red Line on Main Street has a 90' ROW, and the other lines run on a one-way pair.
Main Street, at least southwest of Ensemble/HCC Station, seems to be 80' ROW and a very pleasant pedestrian environment, even with a large landscaped median of station-width between the tracks for the entire stretch and in some places some really excessive sidewalk planting.

I apologize for the confusion, I guess that neighborhood is called Midtown, and not Downtown.

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Re: Bottineau LRT (Blue Line Extension)

Postby twincitizen » August 7th, 2020, 1:11 pm

Here's a map of the alignment I think they should do. North of Robbinsdale it's very similar to the original but would take lanes away from Bottineau Boulevard instead of being on BNSF right-of-way.

https://www.google.com/maps/d/edit?mid= ... sp=sharing
I like this alignment a lot too. If money and cost-effectiveness ratings were no object, it's what I'd go with. Running down the middle or side of Bottineau Blvd (rather than the freight rail ROW) may in fact result in higher ridership, especially at North Memorial Hospital. Not having a station anywhere near there was a huge drawback of the freight ROW. I never understood why no station was planned at ~34th-36th Ave to serve the hospital and close the spacing gap between downtown Robbinsdale and Golden Valley Rd.

For the city portion of the route, I have a non-tunnel alternative that may also be workable: 7th>Lyndale>Lowry>Bottineau. While it wouldn't serve as much of the heart of West Broadway, it would come pretty close at Lyndale & Broadway. And there's always the plan to put aBRT on Broadway>Washington, so there would be a transfer at Lyndale & Broadway. Running on Lyndale also puts stations at Broadway and Lowry within walking distance of the riverfront area and all of those jobs on the east side of I-94. Not a great walking environment, but the distance is very doable. The biggest downside of Lyndale>Lowry routing would be that it would be much slower than the tunnel under Broadway. Using the government's calculations, you'd probably lose some suburban ridership due to the slower end-to-end trip, but you'd get more city ridership because there would be more stations in city neighborhoods.

For the suburban portion of the route, one thing that seems inevitable no matter what route is chosen is the use of Bottineau Ave ROW instead of the rail corridor. What does everyone think about side-running vs. center running? South of Hwy. 100, I'd probably want it to be in the center of the street, like the Green Line. North of 100 doesn't matter as much because it's not walkable period. By the point you reach Bass Lake Road (the first station north of 100), the RR tracks are tight on the west side of Bottineau Blvd. It probably makes sense to put the LRT tracks on the west side of the road as well, so you don't have a roadway between two sets of tracks.


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