30.5.08

U of MN Central Corridor Update

Well, the tables have finally turned against the U of MN, and it looks like the pedestrian/transit mall is likely. See the MPR story:

Hausman says the university is arrogantly elevating itself as the most important player along the corridor, and that is endangering the economic health of the entire region by putting the project on the line.

"To assume that one player has more power along the corridor, or deserves more along the corridor, doesn't serve the people of this region well," Hausman said.

The funny part about this piece is that MPR self-referentially includes their own objections in the laundry list of kibbitzing (they were the only news organization to mention this part of the story):

On the other end of the line in St. Paul, Minnesota Public Radio sent the Met Council a letter this week expressing its uneasiness about the route.

MPR is concerned that the vibrations caused by the trains running down Cedar St. in downtown St. Paul could affect the network's ability to broadcast from its main building which is located on that street.

Like the university, MPR says it supports the light rail project, but not the alignment.

It's funny when you have to grab the gun away from someone as they're about to shoot themselves in the foot, and they get mad at you for doing so.

For more of my thoughts on the matter, see this post of one of the original memos, this one, or this one on the lobbying effort.

Other reactions out there:

This picture of the auto shop on Washington Avenue that Foti includes in his piece, along with the tagline "everything old is new again" got me thinking about the inter-relationship between transportation and architecture. (It's a very good car repair place, by the way! highly recommended!)

City spaces were simply not meant to be served by the automobile. Our cities developed along streetcar lines and the way the buildings are built -- close to the curb, wide sidewalks, tall buildings, smaller yards -- work really well with transit infrastructure. It's a lot more difficult to use these kinds of spaces entirely with cars... you have to build a heckuva lot of parking lots, and somehow make these lots in ways that don't disrupt the density and continuity of the neighborhood.

In a way, it just makes sense to have LRT or transit serving a dense space like the U of MN, or University Avenue. It's the kind of transportation the buildings were designed and built for.

At the same time, suburban landscapes -- strip malls, big parking lots, vast areas of large-lot low-density residential -- were designed entirely for the automobile. It'll be almost impossible to re-adapt these spaces for anything else, which is why transit engineers are so screwed when it comes to growing the Twin Cities transit system beyond the core cities (and some of the first ring suburbs).

It's not like the streetcar LRT line is either old or new, but it's a transportation option that fits well with the kinds of spaces and buildings that exist in the older, historical parts of Minneapolis and Saint Paul.

1 comment:

Ryan said...

It never was about the U being auto-centric. It was about a useful light rail system. This is a bad alignment that will hurt the U's walkability.

After an average speed of 6 mph through downtown, the train will max at, what, 35 or 45 coming across the bridge? Then there is another mile at a top speed of 15-20. It's going to take half an hour to get from the new ball park to Oak and Washington. The 6 will do it in two thirds that, and it takes the indirect route to get there. It's going to make Boston trains look fast.

This is the new Big K In The Way.