stp: Transit Summit Round-Up

The Must-Have meeting of the year was a few weeks ago at Hamline University. I was there, and I'm probably one of the only people who took the bus to the meeting, which was why I was late . . .

But when I arrived, there was a packed auditorium-style classroom filled with the upper-middle class white Saint Paulites who are core transit buffs in a city known for transit buffs. They all had their notepads out and were riveted by the evening's lineup, all giving powerpoint presentations about the future of Saint Paul transportation planning.

Giving talks were:

  • Larry Soderholm, St. Paul planning administrator
  • Al Lovejoy, St. Paul something or other
  • Mike Klassen, St. Paul Public Works
  • Kan Haider, Ramsey County
  • Cris Roy, MNDOT
  • Steve Morris, Ramsey Rail Authority
  • Adam Harrington, Metro Transit
  • Rep. Alice Haussman, MN Legislature
  • Chris Coleman, Mayor
The most exciting moment was the 30 sec. CGI projection of what the LRT would look like as it came to a stop in front of Porky's and the Episcopalian old folks home at the corner of University and Fairview. It was a fun little video.

I have extensive notes on the meeting, and I'm hoping to post parts of the talks for everyone to see in the future. But here are some of the proposed projects:

  • Central Corridor LRT
  • 35-E (b/w downtown StP and Roseville) Resurfacing and Reconstruction
  • New Lafayette Bridge
  • "Community "scoping"
  • I-94 Resurfacing b/w downtown StP and Cedar Ave. in Mpls
  • I-94 Noise Wall installations at Prior and Fairview (South side) and new the Snelling intersection
  • the downtown Union Depot
  • Planning for other LRT lines (W 7th, Robert St., somewhere to the North)
There was a lot of other talk, but the main problem is lack of money. Particularly depressing was the current state of the bus system. By all accounts, Metro Transit is a very effecient system (cost per rider), but they're simply hamstrung by lack of a stable source of funding. They've made great strides (esp. along Como and W 7th), and have high hopes of doubling ridership by 2025. But without a stable income stream, they're going to be hostage to politics.

But, the only thing really clear was that a whole lot is riding on the University Avenue LRT.


Andrew said...

Thank you for putting this up. I have heard nothing about this Transit Summit in either the Star Trib or the Pioneer Press. I agree with the problem of funding and how transportation projects will be hostage to politics. Hopefully by seeing the possibilities of development and growth, people who attend these meetings can in turn put pressure on our state and local government officials and hold them accountable when they veto a major transportation bill..Thx Governor!!!
I have seen the animatic of Central Corrdior, however, the animatic that was created for Northstar was of much higher quality and showed the entire route from start to finish. Hopefully the NCDA will have it on their site soon.
Was there anyone from Transit for Liveable communities at the Summit? I know theere is another transportation meeting coming up on the 13th, but you have to pay $25 in advance and $30 at the door to attend.
I think the possibility of another LRT line on West 7th would be interesting, although I don't know that area very well.
Hearing more about the Union Depot and whether the Central LRT line would actually come into the depot or if it would stop outside.
Thanks again, I would have liked to attended bu class had to take priority, maybe the next one.

MNObserver said...

Part of the reason that LRT is facing such antagonism from the business community on University is that five years ago, the state and Met Council tried to shove LRT/dedicated busway/undefined transit thing down West 7th, and screwed up the process so badly that the project was defunded and died a natural death. An ugly mess that hangs over the LRT planning even now.

To put it in perspective, imagine how the good people on Grand Avenue would take the to a proposal to build a 25 foot dedicated busway or an LRT line down the middle of that street. West 7th has exactly the same door-to-door widths as Grand, and an equally neighborhood scale commercial history. West 7th also has two other huge transitways that were shoved onto that long narrow nighborhood in the last 25 years: Shepard Road and 35E.

It was one of those classic St. Paul transit/neighborhood battles, and for once the neighborhood folks won.