A better route for Southwest commuter rail

  • Article by: BERNIE H. BEAVER
  • Updated: August 14, 2013 - 7:32 PM

Two blocks! Resolution of the conflict on the Kenilworth Trail between freight rail lines, light rail and the bike path is only about two blocks.

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brian7291Aug. 14, 13 9:39 PM

The writer is half-correct - his solution still doesn't solve the fact that the current route drops folks at a single stop at the edge of downtown like a commuter train, with a 4-8 block walk to the core. Run the train through Uptown in the Midtown Greenway with stops at Hennepin, Lyndale, and Nicollet. Then go up Nicollet with stops at 24/26, Franklin, 12th, 8th, and 4th. 4-5 additional stops (and time) will be more than offset by the increased ridership, redevelopment potential, and lack of resultant foot commute by the current route terminating at the back of the ballpark. With these massive cost increases for tunnels and freight realignments, Met Council HAS to reconsider this!

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brian7291Aug. 14, 13 9:52 PM

Correction: THREE additional stops. Three only. This should be a no-brainer!

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greenedAug. 14, 1311:10 PM

The Uptown alignment was rejected because it is too expensive and doesn't generate enough ridership to support the marginal cost increase. There is already good transit in Uptown with improvements to come, including a likely streetcar and arterial BRT. There is much more redevelopment potential in the Bassett Creek Valley than along the Greenway (already under development) or up Nicollet (already built). Ryan Companies already has a proposal for development around the Van White station. The Green Line extension (SW LRT) doesn't stop at the edge of downtown. It interlines with the Green Line (Central Corridor) and goes all the way to St. Paul. An Uptown alignment can't do that either.

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JMJohnnyAug. 15, 1312:39 AM

There is another option for dealing with the two block stretch of restricted ROW between 27th and 29th, and that is to single track the LRT line through that area. That should leave 20 to 25 feet of ROW for each of freight rail, LRT and bike/hike trail deployments, which should be sufficient for freight clearances and a 14 to 16 foot bike/hike trail. Single tracking a high volume rail operation like LRT is obviously not ideal, but is nonetheless an inexpensive and workable solution that does not take homes and yet preserves the ROW separations contained in the at-grade co-location options recently revealed by Met Council. And LRT transit times, at 7 to 10 minute headways, should not be affected by more than 30 seconds each way due to delays at the Cedar bottleneck, with many trains not stopping or slowing at all to negotiate the 400 to 600 yard single track section. (This small average delay could even be mitigated by simply not deploying the 21st Street station just to the north, a beckoning siren to apartment and boutique developers right there in the heart of Kenilworth if ever there was one.) For the insecure amongst us, an SWLRT single track application will not be the first of its kind. An isolated single track LRT configuration is currently proposed for the San Francisco Muni's F line to enable use of an existing narrow tunnel underneath Fort Mason. Single track LRT is also in effect today on North San Diego County's Sprinter LRT system, where several one to two-mile sections are so deployed. This is not perfect, as stated, but isn't the SWLRT freight reroute debacle at the point where the perfect can ill afford to get in the way of the good - or even the merely adequate?

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polymath234Aug. 15, 13 6:50 AM

@greened: are you kidding? The Uptown route wouldn't generate enough ridership? Maybe 20 years ago that was true, but now? Take a look at the 2010 Census and get back to me.

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greenedAug. 15, 13 7:23 AM

polymath234, it's what the studies show, There's already good bus service and the incremental increase in transit usage from LRT isn't worth the $300 million additional cost.

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smcinernyAug. 15, 13 7:39 AM

Light rail will never "pay for itself." It will be an expensive subsidy falling on all of us forever.

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katarzynamAug. 15, 13 8:21 AM

This project is threatening to destroy a bike trail that serves 3-4000 bike users A DAY. That's 10% of the projected ridership of the LRT line in 2030!

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palsarAug. 15, 13 9:18 AM

How about they buy about 50 luxury buses and then save about $1.9B of the projected $2B+ to build this.

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greenedAug. 15, 13 9:29 AM

The Kenilworth alignment creates a critical missing transit link for North Minneapolis. SW LRT is the biggest equity engine we have going in the state and a reroute would be a slap in the face to communities that have been in a transit desert for decades.

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