Bottineau LRT (Blue Line Extension)

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

Postby alexschief » December 12th, 2020, 10:17 am

I think having a tunnel on Broadway would be the most ideal choice, but I feel like it's likely that the Olson-Penn option is in the discussion again.
I find it hard to imagine. That alternative called for the demolition of over a hundred homes! That was and is such a nonstarter, I'm suspicious of why it was ever proposed in the first place.

I imagine if a tunnel option were proposed, it might be for a similar reason: because it makes the other option look more reasonable.

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Re: Bottineau LRT (Blue Line Extension)

Postby tmart » December 12th, 2020, 12:04 pm

I think having a tunnel on Broadway would be the most ideal choice, but I feel like it's likely that the Olson-Penn option is in the discussion again.
I find it hard to imagine. That alternative called for the demolition of over a hundred homes! That was and is such a nonstarter, I'm suspicious of why it was ever proposed in the first place.

I imagine if a tunnel option were proposed, it might be for a similar reason: because it makes the other option look more reasonable.
There were other options considered that didn't involve widening Penn, generally by making it a one-way for cars. These were dismissed very early in the process and would probably be reevaluated in greater depth if Penn comes up again. IMO the reasoning cited for dismissing them (such as an assumption that it would badly affect circulation to/from North Memorial, or that emergency vehicles would park on the tracks when responding on Penn) is not super compelling.

I still think a tunnel is the best option, but I don't think it's ridiculous to reevaluate if the Penn alignment can be achieved without tearing down the neighborhood.

alexschief
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Re: Bottineau LRT (Blue Line Extension)

Postby alexschief » December 15th, 2020, 2:09 pm


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Tcmetro
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Re: Bottineau LRT (Blue Line Extension)

Postby Tcmetro » December 15th, 2020, 2:23 pm

Thank you for sharing that. Good to see a timeline. Looks like about a year to figure out a new routing.

Anondson
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Re: Bottineau LRT (Blue Line Extension)

Postby Anondson » December 20th, 2020, 11:34 am

Hmm, fantasizing moment... I’ve never felt like the planners have accounted for all the Green and Blue line sharing 5th St in a growing transit demand future. So...

What if the tunnel coming in from Broadway just went all the way through North Minneapolis, into downtown and emerged roughly by US Bank stadium, say, near 11th Ave.

Using the Blue Line extension to help alleviate the impending 5th St congestion once the SWLRT extension is up and running.

alexschief
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Re: Bottineau LRT (Blue Line Extension)

Postby alexschief » December 20th, 2020, 12:15 pm

Replacing Target Field Station with an underground station seems really expensive, unnecessary, and unadvisable.

I do hope that in the next decade, especially with the inevitable inconveniences and challenges of two through-running LRT lines on a downtown surface street, that discussions heat up about a downtown transit tunnel. But I think the more likely result is a tunnel that goes underground between 2nd and 1st Ave, stops twice (at a new station between Nicollet and Hennepin, and beneath the existing Government Plaza station), and emerges at the current US Bank Stadium Station.

That shallow tunnel would be less than a mile long, and could be built with cut and cover and a temporary disruption of through-running service downtown.

In contrast, a tunnel through North Minneapolis would have to be bored, and I think would have to emerge before the I-94 trench and continue on 7th St at grade before climbing to Target Field Station. That would be pretty expensive, although I think you could save a little by digging out a station on the MPS parcel at Plymouth/Emerson-Fremont instead of mining it.

tmart
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Re: Bottineau LRT (Blue Line Extension)

Postby tmart » December 20th, 2020, 2:32 pm

Replacing Target Field Station with an underground station seems really expensive, unnecessary, and unadvisable.

I do hope that in the next decade, especially with the inevitable inconveniences and challenges of two through-running LRT lines on a downtown surface street, that discussions heat up about a downtown transit tunnel. But I think the more likely result is a tunnel that goes underground between 2nd and 1st Ave, stops twice (at a new station between Nicollet and Hennepin, and beneath the existing Government Plaza station), and emerges at the current US Bank Stadium Station.

That shallow tunnel would be less than a mile long, and could be built with cut and cover and a temporary disruption of through-running service downtown.

In contrast, a tunnel through North Minneapolis would have to be bored, and I think would have to emerge before the I-94 trench and continue on 7th St at grade before climbing to Target Field Station. That would be pretty expensive, although I think you could save a little by digging out a station on the MPS parcel at Plymouth/Emerson-Fremont instead of mining it.
I think this makes a lot of sense, and is probably the most realistic scenario for how we'd eventually deal with the capacity limitations Downtown (if we ever do so). For that reason I'd like to see elevated rail play a bigger role in the discussion of Bottineau alignments (not including the core of North), as it's much cheaper and a much more natural connection to the existing Target Field Station, and all the surface routes I can imagine west of TF involve a lot of awkward intersections. (It's a shame that MnDOT is apparently committing to maintenance of the stupid North Loop Viaduct, which could have been adapted into an excellent ROW between Target Field and North.)

A few nitpicky questions, if you don't mind:

1. Wouldn't it make more sense to include US Bank Stadium Station in the underground part, and then only emerge as close as possible to the Blue/Green Line split? There are still a few grade crossings after that stop, and it seems like, to really get the capacity benefits, we'd want to make sure the entire shared segment is grade-separated.

2. I imagine the brief at-grade segment near Target Field would then become the limiting factor for the system. Have you thought at all about how to mitigate the impact of trains having to cross the 2nd Ave/5th St intersection? Or for that matter, the general mess that is gameday foot traffic around the stadium?

3. What makes Downtown an appropriate candidate for cut-and-cover but not North? Just residential impacts during construction, or something more technical?

alexschief
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Re: Bottineau LRT (Blue Line Extension)

Postby alexschief » December 20th, 2020, 3:51 pm

Keep in mind I don't have all the answers here, nobody has studied this closely.

1. Yeah, you could do that as well, I don't have a strong opinion on it. Already the signals for the LRT crossings at 3rd and 4th Streets and 11th Avenue seem to be preempted by the train, so I'm not sure it's a huge need to address. I think the decisive issue would probably be whatever parking infrastructure is below grade at the US Bank Station, and how easy or difficult it might be to untangle that knot.

2. No, I mostly imagine that the low volume of these roads would make it easier to give trains complete signal priority. I think gameday congestion is probably not a frequent enough issue to spend upwards of tens of millions of dollars to address with tunnels.

3. Well, I envision the tunneled segment in North Minneapolis being a diagonal bore, while the downtown segment would be just below the street surface. But of course you could run the North Minneapolis segment underneath the street grid as well, and then it would be fine to build it with cut and cover. That sort of strikes me as the worst of both worlds though, because you've got the added expenses of going underground but the added time that comes from moving orthogonally. I don't know why you'd prefer that approach to simply using surface streets with signal priority.

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Re: Bottineau LRT (Blue Line Extension)

Postby Silophant » December 20th, 2020, 10:05 pm

My take on a downtown tunnel (no actual studies of course, and I'm extremely not a "physical objects" engineer) is that the way to go would be:

1) Remove the 6th St exit from 394, either by itself or as a part of removing 394 all the way back to the 12th/Linden ramps. Also close the 3rd Ave N entrance, removing that LRT conflict.
2) Have the LRT tracks cut diagonally from 5th St to 6th St through the ground level of the B Ramp (again, no idea if this is structurally feasible. The 2nd Ave bus station and parking ramp entrance would have to be significantly reconfigured or eliminated)
3) Probably close the 2nd/6th intersection to cars (leaving dead-ends on 2nd for access to the Target Center loading dock and a new entrance/exit from the B Ramp) and use the grade change between 2nd and 1st for the portal into a cut and cover tunnel under 6th.
4) Tunnel under 6th St, with a station between Hennepin and Nicollet and a station built into the basement of the Government Center.
5) Turn north through the now-vacant Medical Examiner's building, and move the Stadium Station down to the level of the parking garage beneath it (rebuild the plaza above it, or leave it open to the sky, whichever), and continue the tunnel under the mess of the 4th and Chicago intersection, then pop back up to the existing grade-level tracks east of Chicago. Close the stub of Norm McGrew Place if necessary.

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Re: Bottineau LRT (Blue Line Extension)

Postby Oreos&Milk » December 21st, 2020, 1:31 pm

If we are talking a shallow tunnel downtown for the LRT. I would like to hear more as to how much more useful it could be to other assets. North Star, Northern Lights Express, Amtrak HSR to Chicago, and HSR Rochester / St. Paul. Would these lines be able to utilize this proposed tunnel segment and how much would it cost to allow heavy rail?

If it’s just a downtown tunnel for green and blue METRO lines it doesn’t seem as valuable as what it could be. Although maybe that wouldn’t even be possible to add all that extra traffic in such a situation even with a tunnel.

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Re: Bottineau LRT (Blue Line Extension)

Postby DanPatchToget » December 21st, 2020, 4:09 pm

If we are talking a shallow tunnel downtown for the LRT. I would like to hear more as to how much more useful it could be to other assets. North Star, Northern Lights Express, Amtrak HSR to Chicago, and HSR Rochester / St. Paul. Would these lines be able to utilize this proposed tunnel segment and how much would it cost to allow heavy rail?

If it’s just a downtown tunnel for green and blue METRO lines it doesn’t seem as valuable as what it could be. Although maybe that wouldn’t even be possible to add all that extra traffic in such a situation even with a tunnel.
Intercity rail in a tunnel is a no-go because that requires diesel locomotives, but regional/commuter rail is a possibility. If we were to build a tunnel in Downtown Minneapolis for the light rail, it would be optimal to also build a lower level for regional trains and allow through-routing to St. Paul. Oslo did this with their T-Bane (Metro) in one tunnel and directly below is a tunnel for regional, intercity, and freight trains.

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Bakken2016
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Re: Bottineau LRT (Blue Line Extension)

Postby Bakken2016 » January 21st, 2021, 7:39 pm

Just attended the Metro Blue Line Extension Community Session hosted by the North Minneapolis Neighborhoods Council and Harrison Neighborhood Association. It looks like we should have some alignments to discuss sometime in March. Project staff are very supportive of serving North Minneapolis and not just bypassing it, like the old alignment. We talked alot about routing it via West Broadway, this gives me a lot of hope for this project!

alexschief
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Re: Bottineau LRT (Blue Line Extension)

Postby alexschief » January 22nd, 2021, 8:11 am

Second best news I've heard all week.

Did they discuss at all a tunnel versus at-grade? I'm hoping shared lanes are completely off the table from the start.

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Bakken2016
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Re: Bottineau LRT (Blue Line Extension)

Postby Bakken2016 » January 22nd, 2021, 11:28 am

Second best news I've heard all week.

Did they discuss at all a tunnel versus at-grade? I'm hoping shared lanes are completely off the table from the start.
We definitely talked about both tunnels and elevated rail, neither are off the table. But it was definitely was made known that it would be expensive. Shared lanes were never brought up during the entire night, but I believe it has been said they want this to be a dedicated ROW project.


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alexschief
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Re: Bottineau LRT (Blue Line Extension)

Postby alexschief » January 22nd, 2021, 11:36 am

Second best news I've heard all week.

Did they discuss at all a tunnel versus at-grade? I'm hoping shared lanes are completely off the table from the start.
We definitely talked about both tunnels and elevated rail, neither are off the table. But it was definitely was made known that it would be expensive. Shared lanes were never brought up during the entire night, but I believe it has been said they want this to be a dedicated ROW project.
Music to my ears. Thanks.

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Re: Bottineau LRT (Blue Line Extension)

Postby SurlyLHT » January 22nd, 2021, 12:48 pm

We'll see what they argue. I'm willing to argue that the costs of the project both culturally and in terms of built environment outweigh the benefit to the Northside. Brooklyn Park has a city plan depending on this. Robbinsdale wants it badly for their Downtown area and Golden Valley is hoping it will serve their large employers. These cities don't have great transit connections, North does via standard bus routes and BRT.

I don't see the additional benefit of increased transit benefiting the Northside, nearly as much as it benefits the suburbs. If you invested their percentage of the $$$ already spent on this thing in the Northside, so many of the areas issues would have already been solved. The local government $$$ is better spent directly building the community instead of a modest increase in transit connections.

Misplaced priorities become abundantly clear when you look at how the funding discussions last year regarding the MPD and OVP and see that the total cost of this project's failed plan isn't too far from MPD's yearly budget.

We need investments in people, not infrastructure which connects wealthy suburbs to Downtown.

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Bakken2016
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Re: Bottineau LRT (Blue Line Extension)

Postby Bakken2016 » January 22nd, 2021, 1:00 pm

We'll see what they argue. I'm willing to argue that the costs of the project both culturally and in terms of built environment outweigh the benefit to the Northside. Brooklyn Park has a city plan depending on this. Robbinsdale wants it badly for their Downtown area and Golden Valley is hoping it will serve their large employers. These cities don't have great transit connections, North does via standard bus routes and BRT.

I don't see the additional benefit of increased transit benefiting the Northside, nearly as much as it benefits the suburbs. If you invested their percentage of the $$$ already spent on this thing in the Northside, so many of the areas issues would have already been solved. The local government $$$ is better spent directly building the community instead of a modest increase in transit connections.

Misplaced priorities become abundantly clear when you look at how the funding discussions last year regarding the MPD and OVP and see that the total cost of this project's failed plan isn't too far from MPD's yearly budget.

We need investments in people, not infrastructure which connects wealthy suburbs to Downtown.
Wow, what a completely wrong opinion..... you don't realize how many transit dependent people live in these suburbs and commute to North Minneapolis. That was brought up many times last night.

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Re: Bottineau LRT (Blue Line Extension)

Postby DanPatchToget » January 22nd, 2021, 1:09 pm

We'll see what they argue. I'm willing to argue that the costs of the project both culturally and in terms of built environment outweigh the benefit to the Northside. Brooklyn Park has a city plan depending on this. Robbinsdale wants it badly for their Downtown area and Golden Valley is hoping it will serve their large employers. These cities don't have great transit connections, North does via standard bus routes and BRT.

I don't see the additional benefit of increased transit benefiting the Northside, nearly as much as it benefits the suburbs. If you invested their percentage of the $$$ already spent on this thing in the Northside, so many of the areas issues would have already been solved. The local government $$$ is better spent directly building the community instead of a modest increase in transit connections.

Misplaced priorities become abundantly clear when you look at how the funding discussions last year regarding the MPD and OVP and see that the total cost of this project's failed plan isn't too far from MPD's yearly budget.

We need investments in people, not infrastructure which connects wealthy suburbs to Downtown.
Well Golden Valley is probably out, so they'll just have to improve local transit to where ever the new Blue Line Extension alignment goes. As for cost vs benefit, how much money that will be spent on this project can only be used for transit or transportation purposes? Assuming the feds fund around half of it, that money can only be used for transit, so either we get that money or some other city gets it.

And can we not assume everyone in the suburbs is wealthy, owns a car, and loves driving? Yes most suburbanites own a car, but that doesn't mean they all enjoy it and have the finances for it plus other living expenses. I don't agree with the Blue Line Extension still serving Target North, but I still think the route will do a decent job serving both urban and suburban interests assuming the new alignment goes through North Minneapolis. I'll take that over serving pretty much just some park & ride lots/ramps like a certain commuter rail line.


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