Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The Central Corridor: Who is supposed to use it?

With any luck, MSP will eventually build the central corridor light rail (see details here). The basic idea is to link both downtowns with a light rail line running down University Ave. There are still lots of details to work out, funding chief among them. Also, stakeholders have not agreed on the final route through the University of Minnesota.

One thing that has troubled me about this whole venture is this: Who is supposed to benefit from this line? Who really needs to travel back and forth between the two downtowns? I guess there are probably lawyers and government folk who would benefit, but do ordinary Twin Citians need to make the trip very often?

I imagine the demographic that stands to benefit the most is commuters. Except, well, I don't quite see how the Central Corridor will help commuters all that much. Unless you live within walking distance of University Ave (between Dinkytown on the west and Rice St on the east), you'll have to take a bus and transfer to get on the light rail line itself. But wait--you're already on a bus! And buses go downtown! Hmmm. Maybe I'm not seeing something.


Blogger Ed Kohler said...

I think the U of MN may be a big player in ridership. Getting people on and off campus more efficiently, perhaps? Or, all the way to/from the airport via downtown Minneapolis.

2:11 PM  
Blogger Polymander said...

Plenty of us do live within walking distance of the line (University Ave itself is big-boxy in my area, but the neighborhoods on either side are pretty dense). I think the fact that the 16 bus is consistently packed, even during off hours, is a pretty good indication that all sorts of people have all sorts of reasons for wanting to move along that corridor.

That said, though, folks around here are justifiably worried that the train will serve elective commuters at the expense of people who depend on the 16--and the neighborhood businesses along the route, who are in danger of being priced out by rising property values. My guess is that in the long run most of these businesses stand to gain from the train, but I do think there's got to be something (temporary property tax break?) done to make sure they don't go under because they have to pay the costs before they see any of the benefits.

12:35 AM  
Blogger sandy pants said...

Hey, good to see you back on the blog. I just got caught up on your past posts. India's traffic. Wow. It's kind of hypnotizing and somewhat beautiful to watch the cars dance through that intersection.

Anyway, here's what Jeff and I have been up to: we made our first video! Check it Out

5:48 PM  
Blogger Zach K. said...

I believe there's a certain political reality that the "next" light rail line in the Twin Cities needs to link into St. Paul. Within that context, I think the University Ave. has a lot of potential as an LRT corridor.

Without repeating what has already been mentioned, here are two additional thoughts:

- Significant amount of space for for service: University Avenue is a rather wide (multi-lane) roadway along most of the corridor. There is available space for trains/tracks which hopefully reduces the need (and cost) of acquiring land.

- Potential for new development along the corridor: I've always felt University Ave. has a lot of potential for new (transit-oriented) development (of course, keeping in mind the concerns expressed by polymander).

10:36 PM  
Blogger Bill Lindeke said...

I would ride it. One of the big benefits of the train is that the space along Univ. Ave. today is sorely underused. For example, each of the old car dealerships take up three city blocks, and each is laying empty.

Plus, there are a ton of small businesses . . . plenty of room to add many different kinds of housing.

On top of the current neighborhood people who would go back and forth on the LRT, you have to think of how it might look in 25 years.

The Midway Books guy is right: It'll look very different.

10:17 AM  

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