Dense Ideas: Southwest And Other LRT Lines

One criticism often glossed over by SWLRT boosters is that the alignment lacks density. David Levinson expertly laid out the trade-offs in his recent piece. Low population density will limit the value added by the line. The line could still be a success, but its ceiling will be that much lower. It appears Met Council will succeed in getting the Kenilworth alignment built. However, it’s crucial we select denser corridors in the future to maximize our investment and connect as many people as possible to high quality mass transit. Once SWLRT is built, we need to continue to make improvements to mitigate the shortcomings of a less than ideal alignment. (Matt Steele had some good ideas in his piece Triage Now And Rehabilitate Later.)

Density

Density

Yonah Freemark’s density graphic has been widely sited in the SWLRT debate.

 

Density can’t tell us everything and there are other factors to be considered in selecting a route, but it’s a damn good starting point–one that has not been taken seriously enough when planning Northstar, Southwest, Bottineau, Rush Line, Red Rock, or Gateway. Why are LRT lines that could serve more density overlooked and delayed while its full steam ahead on suburban commuter rail? We need to start learning the right lessons from our past transit projects.

Do Not Follow The Northstar

Northstar by now is widely recognized as a boondoggle, but who in their right mind was predicting a well-used line given its route? In residents per square mile, Big Lake has a density of 1,455, Elk River: 543, Ramsey: 821, Anoka: 2,558, Coon Rapids: a whooping 2,719, and Fridley: 2,675. Northstar then passes through Columbia Heights, the densest suburb in Minnesota at 5,717, and about five miles worth of Minneapolis (7,019) and inexplicably does not stop until its final destination: Target Field. Wouldn’t want the train to get too crowded!

City and Residents/Square Mile
Minneapolis: 7,019
Columbia Heights: 5,717
Lauderdale: 5,664
Saint Paul: 5,484
Richfield: 5,127
Robbinsdale: 5,001
Hopkins: 4,311
St Louis Park: 4,252
New Hope: 4,035
North Saint Paul: 4,021
West Saint Paul: 3,979
Crystal: 3,832
Brooklyn Center: 3,781
Saint Anthony: 3,656
South Saint Paul: 3,568
Excelsior: 3,473
New Brighton: 3,321
Osseo: 3,240
Mound: 3,165
Edina: 3,103
Mounds View: 3,016
White Bear Lake: 2,967
Apple Valley: 2,911
Brooklyn Park: 2,906
Champlin: 2,826
Coon Rapids: 2,719
Fridley: 2,675
Stillwater: 2,618
Roseville: 2,589
Anoka: 2,558
Little Canada: 2,512
Oakdale: 2,500
Waconia: 2,464
Burnsville: 2,421
Bloomington: 2,390
Falcon Heights: 2,386
Shoreview: 2,325
Maplewood: 2,239
Mahtomedi: 2,199
Hastings: 2,165
Plymouth: 2,159
Eagan: 2,063
Golden Valley: 1,997
Maple Grove: 1,886
Eden Prairie: 1,873
Minnetonka: 1,846
Woodbury: 1,784
St Paul Park: 1,765
Vadnais Heights: 1,762
Savage: 1,721
Blaine: 1,689
Lakeville: 1,551
Prior Lake: 1,476
Big Lake: 1,455
Chaska: 1,400
Shorewood: 1,368
Shakopee: 1,323
Inver Grove Heights: 1,220
Mendota Heights: 1,209
Wayzata: 1,197
Chanhassen: 1,123
Arden Hills: 1,112
Rogers: 1,068
Cottage Grove: 1,028
Andover: 903
Ramsey: 821
Lino Lakes: 716
Rosemount: 658
Forest Lake: 601
Elk River: 543
Orono: 468
Otsego: 459
Ham Lake: 444
Hugo: 398
Chisago City: 396
Wyoming: 384
Lake Elmo: 362
North Branch: 284
Dayton: 200
Afton: 115

The root of Northstar’s problems isn’t that it doesn’t plow through 30 more miles of cornfield to reach that veritable mecca, Saint Cloud. The Granite City has a population of about 66,000 and a density of 1,644. It’s neither enough people nor density to save the line, and most Saint Cloud residents don’t commute to Minneapolis for work, anyway. Plus, the Northstar doesn’t run at night and only sparsely on the weekend, which vastly reduces its use for recreational purposes.

Southwest: A Dense Idea?

A major drawback of SW is that its Minneapolis stations do not directly serve walkable neighborhoods. Overall, Minneapolis has a density of 7,019 residents/square mile, but the Kenwood neighborhood has just 2,200. It’s the wrong neighborhood in Minneapolis to target. Cedar Isles Dean’s density, 4,440, is better but still below average for Minneapolis, and West Calhoun’s musters a mere 2,600. We can project for and plan for growth, but even with 100% growth in these neighborhoods they would still be below average for Minneapolis. Whittier, on the other hand, already has a density of 17,000, as does Loring Park. And they are growing too.

Minneapolis CommunityDensityPopulation
Phillips1300020315
Powderhorn1200054743
Central980029725
Near North680031192
University680038785
Southwest590048076
Camden580028778
Longfellow560027775
Calhoun Isles540029913
Northeast480036225
Nokomis480037021

Meanwhile, the vaunted suburban density of the line is mediocre at best. The first two suburbs are decently dense with St. Louis Park at 4,252 and Hopkins at 4,311. However with Minnetonka and Eden Prairie the numbers drop off precipitously to 1,846 and 1,873, respectively.

The proponents of SWLRT argue that job centers along the line are reason enough for Minneapolis to support the alignment. The Met Council promo video claims more than 200,000 people work along the corridor, with at least 20,000 at Golden Triangle alone. Kudos, but job access is just one piece of the puzzle. The other more important piece is access for dense walkable communities that feed the line throughout the day.

Bottineau? I don’t know…

In February, the Counties Transit Improvement Board threatened to pass up SWLRT for Bottineau LRT if Minneapolis and St. Louis Park don’t get onboard. You’d hope that’d mean a much denser, better thought-out line. Alas, it doesn’t.

As planned, Bottineau does serve Robbinsdale (5,001), Crystal (3,832). and Brooklyn Park (2,906), but skips Brooklyn Center (3,781) and even more egregiously routes through Golden Valley (1,997) rather than North Minneapolis (5,800). Albeit, the Minneapolis stations in the Near North Community (6,800) will be an improvement, and Northsiders can connect from a bus line, but it seems if helping North was truly the Met Council’s motivation, they’d build light rail directly through North rather than skirting around it and spinning it as an “equity” line as an afterthought.

We need to rethink the Bottineau alignment. Penn Avenue is not exceptionally wide, but engineering a way to fit LRT down this urban thoroughfare would pay dividends, especially when compared to the eerily familiar plan to run the train through parkland and low density housing. At the least, we should be looking into a streetcar line to tie North into the huge investments planned just outside its borders.

A Better Vision: Upgrade Planned Nicollet/Central Streetcar To LRT

Minneapolis is forging ahead with a streetcar starter line on Nicollet and Central. Last year, the city council endorsed a plan to build a streetcar from 41st Street in Northeast to 46th Street in South Minneapolis. They haven’t secured funds, and, due to their eagerness to obtain federal money, they plan to build a 3.4-line starter line from Lake Street to 5th Street Northeast to qualify for the Small Starts program which caps federal matching dollars at $200 million dollars per project. By all indications, The Met Council is less than enthused about Minneapolis seeking a streetcar line and not consulting them first.

A streetcar is okay, but LRT provides not only swankiness, but also faster service due to its dedicated lane (and hopefully a tunnel under Nicollet Mall.)

Our LRT plan should focus on connections to our densest neighborhoods, which are mostly in Minneapolis.  Cedar Riverside (15,000) was linked thanks to Hiawatha, but Whittier, Loring Park, Steven’s Square (20,000), Elliot Park (17,000), Lyndale (15,000), Lowry Hill East (15,000), Central (14,000), Phillips West (13,000), Marcy Holmes (12,000), Windom Park (9,600), Bryant (9,500) and Kingfield (9,000) all remain unlinked to LRT.  And guess what? Nicollet/Central LRT would incorporate them all.

If we follow the logic of density, the first suburb we should link to our LRT network would be our densest suburb, Columbia Heights (5,717). Richfield (5,127) would be the next densest choice (excluding tiny little Lauderdale). To the north, Central not only passes through the Columbia Heights, it also goes right by Medtronic’s Fridley Campus. This could be a nice selling point for those obsessed with pandering to big business. To the south, Nicollet goes through the middle of Richfield and within about a mile of Best Buy Headquarters. Maybe Best Buy would sweeten the deal if they got their own LRT stop.

Nicollet/Central would not only serve vastly more jobs than Southwest, but also many times more residents. 130,000 employees use the 11-block-long Nicollet Mall each day alone compared to 200,000 for the whole 16-mile-long SWLRT. Plus is we build LRT from edge of Fridley to Richfield the project seems regional enough for me at least to quality for regional transit dollars, which the Met Council and County Transit Improvement Board seem determined to withhold from streetcar projects.

East Metro Strategy: Scrap Exurban Plans, Build To Denser Inner Ring East Suburbs

Dreams of Red Rock Line to Hastings (2,165) or a Rush Line to Forest Lake (601) have been shelved for now, much to the credit of East Metro officials.  We can’t hastily jump into another bad investment like Northstar by commuter rail into communities not dense enough to support it. Hopes are still alive for approving The Gateway Corridor LRT, but this too seems fool hearted given it passes through a whole lot of Woodbury, density: 1,784. The main rationale seems to be that Interstate 94 is busy along the corridor so we need LRT to relieve congestion, but this would almost assuredly require a massive investment in park and rides given the sprawling land use patterns in the area. Streets.mn has previously laid out the poor economics of park and ride facilties.

Saint Paul CommunityDensityPopulationSquare Miles, estimated
Summit-University9400170021.8
Frogtown8600150411.75
Payne Phalen7700307004
CapitolRiver/Downtown700070571
Greater East Side6800272064
Summit Hill660065741
Mac-Groveland6500195463
North End/South Como6400254474
Union Park6200184053
Hamline-Midway5700114962
Como4800119132.5
Highland4800240785
Dayton's Bluff4700164343.5
West 7th4400110832.5
West Side3000149595
Saint Anthony Park255076743
Eastview et al24502045310

One promising alternative in the Rush Line study proposed a 11-mile LRT line to White Bear Lake (2,967), which would integrate the Saint Paul neighborhoods of Payne-Phalen (7,700, est.) and Dayton’s Bluff (4,700, est.) and approach the Greater East Side (6,600, est.). This sounds like a solid line to me.

The only east Metro suburbs with some serious density, North Saint Paul (4,021), West Saint Paul (3,979) and South Saint Paul (3,568), are precisely the suburbs overlooked by Rush, Red Rock, and Gateway transitways. A Robert Street transitway (through West Saint Paul) is being studied, but the steering committee has already ruled out LRT (but, in their infinite wisdom, left a Highway BRT line down Highway 52 on the table, since, by bypassing most of the neighborhood, it shaves a few more minutes off transit times).

Finding The Density Between The Commuter Lines

We are stuck with a commuter alignment for SWLRT, but at least our LRT network is growing, and growing upon the solid foundation we have with the Blue Line (Hiawatha) and the soon-to-open Green Line. We should capitalize by building a Midtown LRT and Nicollet/Central LRT to integrate as-of-yet passed over dense urban enclaves in Minneapolis. In Saint Paul, an eastward Green Line expansion via the Rush Line to White Bear Lake seems the most viable and would have the added benefit of bringing Payne-Phalen into the fold. Each LRT line becomes more viable and heavily-trafficked, the more lines we add. So let’s keep adding and adding dense to maximize this multiplying effect.

Minneapolis NeighborhoodDensity/square mile
Steven's Square/Loring Heights20000
Elliot Park17000
Whittier17000
Loring Park17000
Lyndale15000
Lowry Hill East15000
Central15000
Cedar Riverside15000
CARAG15000
Phillips13000
Marcy Holmes12000
Powderhorn Park12000
Windom Park9600
Bryant9500
Jordan9500
East Isles9500
Folwell9300
Sheridan9200
Bancroft9100
Kingfield9000
St Anthony East8600
Corcocan8600
Holland8500
Logan Park8300
Willard-Hay8100
Cleveland8100
University8100
Standish8000
Longfellow8000
Regina7700
Downtown West7600
Audubon Park7500
Minnehaha7100
Seward7000
Field6800
Victory6700
Fulton6700
Sumner-Glenwood6700
Armatage6600
Windom Park6600
Hale6400
Tangletown6300
Harrison6200
Northrop6200
Howe6100
Shingle Creek6100
Lowry Hill6000
Prospect Park6000
Bottineau5900
Lynnhurst5900
East Calhoun5800
Longfellow5700
Lind-Bohanon5700
Como5600
Webber-Camden5500
Linden Hills5400
Kenny5400
Near North5300
Nicollet Island/East Bank5300
Hawthorne5200
McKinley5200
Cooper5200
Page5200
North Loop5100
Beltrami4700
Diamond Lake4600
Cedar Isles Dean4400
Hiawatha4100
St Anthony West4000
Morris Park3700
Wenonah3700
Ericcson3500
Keewaydin3500
Downtown East3300
East Harriet2900
West Calhoun2600
Kenwood2200
Mid-City Industrial2200
Bryn Mawr2000
Marshall Terrace1900
Columbia Park1000
Northeast Park950

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42 Responses to Dense Ideas: Southwest And Other LRT Lines

  1. Jeff Klein April 17, 2014 at 12:01 pm #

    I don’t know that we’ll ever get these things right until there’s a fundamental shift in the way we view cities and transportation. We’re still stuck in the commuter mindset, where we all have half an acre in the suburbs and go to work and back every day; and so we’ve planned these light rail lines accordingly, as half-assed upgrades to the car and commuter culture. It just seems like we’re going to keep failing, with Bottineau being the spiritual successor to the complete disaster that is SWLRT.

  2. Matt Steele April 17, 2014 at 12:10 pm #

    Indeed, the bone often thrown to the city is that these lines will bring city dwellers to suburban jobs. In theory, a good thing – especially for transit-dependent folks who have more jobs at their fingertips.

    But just as we look at residential density, we need to look at job density. For most of SWLRT and Bottineau, there’s very low job density. That’s because these jobs are the result of job sprawl, just as the housing was a result of housing sprawl… the cause was the same: massive subsidies of an automobile-dependent land use. Pretending that we can serve these areas, jobs and housing, with quality transit throws a lot of money away now on the promise of a potential change in suburban land use decades from now.

  3. Michael Roden
    Michael Roden April 17, 2014 at 12:12 pm #

    We’re hard at work to change that mindset, and it seems we’re making some progress! We just need to make sure our elected leaders are aware of what their constituents want.

  4. MplsJaromir April 17, 2014 at 12:30 pm #

    More evidence that Minneapolis is many magnitude less dense than coastal cities. The Twin Cities will likely every have justified density for full grade separated transit. I do really like the idea of a Hennepin Avenue transit tunnel south of the Basilica.

  5. Isaac April 17, 2014 at 12:42 pm #

    With regards to Bottineau, I don’t know if ramming LRT down Penn would be seen as very equitable either.

    • Doug Trumm
      Doug Trumm April 17, 2014 at 2:24 pm #

      Losing some parking and dealing with the construction is often a sticking point, but at least there would be real LRT access in North.

  6. Alex April 17, 2014 at 12:47 pm #

    When did the Met Council threaten to build Bottineau before Southwest?

    Also, it’s not useful to consider density of the municipal units. If you look at the density of station areas only, the SLP and Hopkins segments look much better. The density within a half-mile of stations in the portion of SWLRT east of Shady Oak is 80% of the density within a half-mile of Hiawatha stations (excluding downtown in both cases).

    Ideally you’d look at net residential density within a half-mile walk of each station, but that’s why the consultants make the big bucks!

    • Matt Steele April 17, 2014 at 12:57 pm #

      The Hiawatha station areas between 94 and 62 did not, and still do not, have density to justify LRT unless it’s as a bonus between connection of higher-density or higher-traffic trip generators such as Downtown, West Bank, Airport, and MOA.

    • Doug Trumm
      Doug Trumm April 17, 2014 at 2:18 pm #

      CTIB issued an ultimatum saying they move on to Bottineau. http://finance-commerce.com/2014/02/ultimatum-issued-to-southwest-lrt-project/

      True, the smaller the unit the more precise the picture of density, but if the city has a density below 2,000, individual neighborhoods are unlikely to be THAT much denser. Plus, if there is a dense somewhat walkable neighborhood, the surrounding neighborhoods aren’t likely to be which decreases opportunity for connections.

      • Alex April 17, 2014 at 2:34 pm #

        Can you make a correction in your post about which agency made the ultimatum?

        Take a look at a more fine-grained unit of population density such as the NYT census map:

        http://projects.nytimes.com/census/2010/map?ref=us

        All but one of the tracts along the line in Hopkins and SLP have densities over 4,000 people per sq mile.

        On top of this, the literature is mixed about transit-supportive density thresholds. There is a line of reasoning that holds that job density along the line is more important than population density, for the simple reason that people choose their trip type based on conditions at the destination (that is, people choose whether or not to take transit based on how expensive it is to park their car at work, not how expensive it is to park their car at home).

        • Doug Trumm
          Doug Trumm April 17, 2014 at 4:59 pm #

          My bad. I corrected my post regarding the CTIB ultimatum.

          I’m cool with the Hopkins and Saint Louis Park segments. I think the Eden Prairie and Minnetonka sections are more problematic. And, the Minneapolis alignment is the biggest missed opportunity. But I get that’s it probably too late to change the plan. I just hope the next project has better planning and addresses more density.

  7. Adam Miller
    Adam April 17, 2014 at 2:09 pm #

    Every time I look at the SWLRT, I ask myself who they think is going to use the Royalston, Van White and Penn Ave. stations. And I fear the answer is going to be shockingly close to no one, because nearly no one lives within an easy walk of them.

    The only hope for the first two is that the open and/or underused space around them can be redeveloped. We’ll see.

    I don’t see any hope for the Penn Ave. station, which is pretty inaccessible from both the north and the south.

    I’ve not spent much time looking at the Bottineau routing before, but wow, it makes the same mistakes, doesn’t it? But boy, won’t Ted Wirth Park be well served, with not one, not two, but three stops pretty much right on it’=s edges! And adding a second stop (different line) on the other end of the Van White Boulevard to Nowhere?

    This is really terrible. We’re going to have the best transit-served impound lot in the world.

    If we can’t make Penn Ave work, surely there’s a way to at least route it up West Broadway so it can at least serve the city a little before speeding off to the suburbs. Maybe cross 94 on 7th, and head up Emerson to Broadway. Or if there is no way to make the left turn viable, I’d rather go up North Washington to West Broadway than route along the park.

  8. Tony Hunt
    Tony Hunt April 17, 2014 at 3:27 pm #

    If one will allow me to be a test case – living in Northeast and working at Nicollet and Diamond Lake Road – I would still rather see a street car than light rail down Central/Nicollet. For one, if we start maxing ridership we can add more frequent service – which is exactly the kind of transit I want. Screw schedules, searching online, apps, and all that jazz just to figure out the next time a people-mover will come along. Rather go to the line, wait a few minutes, one will be along.

    Also, there are just so many great destinations along this corridor, more frequent stops, while sacrificing ‘speed’ would make this exactly he kind of city-scaled transit. A LRT will feel more like a commuter line running through the middle of the city; as if what we really want to do is facilitate movement from 694 to 494.

  9. Tony Hunt
    Tony Hunt April 17, 2014 at 3:28 pm #

    Eesh. Forgive the unforgivable prose there.

    • Bill Lindeke
      Bill Lindeke April 17, 2014 at 10:01 pm #

      Never!

    • Doug Trumm
      Doug Trumm April 18, 2014 at 10:31 am #

      Totally forgiven, Tony. I think streetcar could work on Nicollet/Central and from a user standpoint that’s fine with me. But, I’d like to see the line go a lot farther than the starter line. Maybe they plan to start building right away after the starter line, but a 3.4 mile streetcar isn’t going to be that useful. I think getting a line that goes from Richfield to Columbia Heights would allow you to replace the #10 and #18 so that you would not only improve service, but also lower operating costs through the higher capacity of each LRT train (or to a lesser extent streetcar) compared to a bus.

      A 3.4 mile streetcar would not allow you to phase out the #10 or #18 because those bus lines are much longer than that. Even the full 41 St NE to 46 St S planned line wouldn’t serve all of the #18. So, you wouldn’t get much in the way of operation cost savings if you not able to eliminate or reduce service on the bus lines along the same corridor.

      • Tony Hunt
        Tony Hunt April 18, 2014 at 1:36 pm #

        Oh there are plenty of good reasons to have the line go from Columbia Heights to Richfield. I’m totally on board for that. I still think a street car system on this route is preferable to a light rail.

        • Nathanael April 22, 2014 at 10:22 pm #

          There is no real difference between streetcars and light rail. Light rail is a fancy marketing exercise for, um, streetcars.

          The important question is, *will it have its own lane*, or *will it get stuck waiting behind automobile traffic*. It needs to have its own lane.

  10. Eric Saathoff
    Eric S April 17, 2014 at 10:40 pm #

    As a resident in Payne Phalen, I would love to see the Rush line be an extension of the Green Line. We really have piss poor transit options being on the forgotten side of the metro area. I have been scheming about how we could move to Hamline-Midway.

  11. Alex Maier April 17, 2014 at 11:14 pm #

    Good point Tony. The street car will at least serve Minneapolis and support walkable neighborhoods. If the Met council had its way a Nicollet/Central line would go straight to Blaine and Burnsville. Frequency of service can’t be under rated. That’s why even though the 6 bus is slow, you can always count on it and people ride it.

  12. Froggie April 18, 2014 at 9:42 am #

    This article can be boiled down to one simple question: does transit bring density? Or does density bring transit? The author obviously prefers the latter (as do most authors and regular commenters on streets.mn), but strong arguments can also be made for the former. Perhaps one of the best case studies of the former in the country is the DC Metro Orange Line through Arlington County, VA.

    In the case of SWLRT, it is true that an Uptown routing would have had a strong, high density anchor for the line in Uptown and points between Uptown and Downtown. But on the flip side, the currently proposed routing easily supports high-density brownfield and industrial-area redevelopment at Van White and Royalston.

    • Adam Miller
      Adam April 18, 2014 at 10:20 am #

      I tend to think it can be both, and maybe needs to be.

      • Doug Trumm
        Doug Trumm April 18, 2014 at 11:28 am #

        I agree it can be both. The question is what’s the highest priority now. And I think the problem you run into with density following LRT is that you have to wait for the developments to catch up to the line. In the meantime, the ridership numbers aren’t going to be that good, and fiscal hawks are going to crusading against mass transit and calling for the dismantling of the Met Council, which they already are now. So, IMO, our long term plans hinges on building successful LRT lines now rather than lines through brownfield/LULU areas that take awhile to develop and in the meantime mean low ridership stations and Minnesotans maybe not supporting building more lines.

        • Froggie April 20, 2014 at 6:27 pm #

          Regarding your “fiscal hawks” comment, it should be noted that, to go back and revisit the SWLRT alignment would, in effect, require redoing the whole EIS process, adding additional years of delay. Additional years that will further jack up the price and enrage those “fiscal hawks”. And it would give project opponents another opportunity to shut the project down altogether.

          Not saying that it should or shouldn’t be pursued. Just noting the harsh reality of the situation.

  13. Sarai Brenner April 19, 2014 at 8:07 am #

    The stats in this article are good, BUT we haven’t built SWLRT yet. Let’s go back and do this alignment right. Better than spending $1.7 billion on a boondoggle, and loosing a great parkland and recreation to boot, potentially hurting our lakes. We subsidize the Northstar line, which is a commuter train to the tune of nearly $16 per ticket (one way). This is what can happen with poor planning. Let’s do this alignment right!

  14. minneapolisite April 19, 2014 at 2:06 pm #

    Let’s not forget how many of those “over 210,000 jobs” along the SWLRT are not accessible from LRT stations. Just like suburbanites in the SW need cars to get to all businesses within their suburbs so too will those city workers trying to get to jobs down there from any station, meaning most commuters will be suburb-city and not the other way around.

    Here’s what a “job opportunity” looks like for some in the burbs.

    https://www.google.com/maps/@45.013357,-93.199807,3a,75y,164.09h,70.62t/data=!3m4!1e1!3m2!1sc1UK1vDjHivoCBfdML0IaQ!2e0

    Whatever you do, don’t slip off the ice mound in winter into that cartoon lake on your long walk to the set-way-the-hell-back office building you’re trying to walk to.

    According to Met Council the 210,000+ jobs figure includes all jobs within a 1/2 mile of the SWLRT stations: as the crow flies. Who wants to walk a half mile/15 minutes one way in our winters even if it is a straight shot (which it’s not in most cases)? How did they miss those huge freeways blocking access to many of these jobs? Why do we want to add more jobs iin such places where people have to spend a 15 minute walk or worse just to get to work? Then look at google maps to see how few jobs are walkable from the proposed stations. That 210,000+ jobs figure is actually much, much lower in reality. Just look at what a walk around the Mitchell Rd station looks like (it’ll be where the grassy patch sits just NW of Scottrade off Mitchell Rd). It’s clear that walking from stations like these there most certainly is nowhere near 210,000+ jobs that are actually within reach for would-be city-suburb commuters.

    https://www.google.com/maps/dir/Scottrade,+7914+Mitchell+Rd,+Eden+Prairie,+MN+55344/Braas+Company,+7970+Wallace+Rd,+Eden+Prairie,+MN+55344/@44.8584077,-93.4749588,1478m/data=!3m2!1e3!4b1!4m14!4m13!1m5!1m1!1s0x87f6192761402d23:0x9446184379e9099f!2m2!1d-93.460051!2d44.859596!1m5!1m1!1s0x87f6193b9e658c1f:0x1d1b42b4221349de!2m2!1d-93.472431!2d44.859481!3e2

    • Bill Lindeke
      Bill Lindeke April 19, 2014 at 5:13 pm #

      There are studies that show that people will walk a long way to get to a LRT station (much longer than to the bus).

      OTOH, there are also studies that show that one’s perception of distance walked is very closely tied to the quality of the streetscape, the perception of safety, and the amount of street vitality.

      This is to say that, it’s not a matter of distance; it’s a matter of walkable spaces.

      That said, most of the SWLRT station areas seem very hostile to people on foot. Nobody wants to walk across a freeway. Nobody.

      • Doug Trumm
        Doug Trumm April 20, 2014 at 11:15 pm #

        What it feels like crossing a freeway:

        • Bill Lindeke
          Bill Lindeke April 21, 2014 at 9:33 am #

          That’s wonderfully horrible.

  15. Cadillac Kolstad April 19, 2014 at 6:19 pm #

    I like this post! Great information! It demonstrates 2 things clearly. 1. transit is not being built to serve people, but is built to serve developers and land speculators!
    2. The data shows that the neighborhoods with greater density, also happen to have some of the most extensive historic preservation in the city.

    This should put to rest the myth that we can not accomplish density with historic preservation, and that preservationist are anti density. It also supports the position that developers have undue influence in govt. They do not need advocacy help from volunteers, non-profits. (Streets.mn) etc.

    In conclusion let us work together to advocate for better transit in already dense active areas, instead of driving a “wedge” 😉 between preservationists and “density advocates”.
    You will find that most of what preservationists have done supports a dense vibrant urban core.

  16. minneapolisite April 20, 2014 at 11:23 am #

    I’ll admit that a big part of why I oppose a luxury apartment development taking over, say a couple of old houses, is that by and large the kind of people who are going to be adding to the population level will also decrease the level of culture in the neighborhood. In other words, already healthy areas that don’t need hyper-gentrification/corporatization to bring them back getting watered down by unchecked growth from a narrow (white upper-class) demographic.

    I went to Uptown Tavern for the 1st time yesterday right next to where tons of these places are adding more residents and it fit my expectations: won’t be going back again. Let’s just say that guys in their late 20s/early 30s should not be that enthusiastic about doing shots let alone doing shots at all. Order a decent single malt scotch like a grown-ass adult and sip it. With even more moneyed “tarts” and bros moving in you can bet more Uptown Taverns and more chains will be opening up to cater to this crowd. This is population growth without any quality control in place. And this is somehow never discussed despite how huge of a part of the picture it is. Just as I agree that it’s ludicrous that Met Council thinks adding more lines on a map makes us more “big city”, I’d have to add that merely adding numbers to our population doesn’t make us more “big city” either. Unless you think more Bar Louies and Caribous somehow does.

    Why do we want to agree to build a SWLRT to possibly attract more dense suburbanites to the city when they’ve already flooded the heart of Uptown with everything from blandness to vapidity? The line would simply add more of the EP population that goes for weekend jaunts to “the city” (Uptown and Psycho Suzi’s) and the current number of offerings available to them won’t be able to fit them all in, so you know what that means:Lake & Hennepin is going to hoist its flag in more neighboring territories sparing nothing that is the least bit interesting from certain death.

    • Adam Miller
      Adam April 21, 2014 at 8:47 am #

      While I actually probably share similar tastes, do you realize how snobby this sounds?

      • minneapolisite April 23, 2014 at 7:28 pm #

        I don’t see how having some standards is snobby. Places like Uptown Tavern/Drink, Bar Louie’s and William’s are dens of poor or no taste, Moving into a neighborhood and pricing everyone who isn’t able to afford $2500/month for a 1 bed just because you can is snobby.

        A sea of luxury towers and chain stores, restaurants, and bars is not a city I want to live in. If that’s how neighborhoods like Whittier, NE, and Seward also end up I’ll move without a doubt. And when even developers themselves are openly marketing to the lowest common denominator, only those with lots of money of course, and they choose to buy into an unflattering image which sadly reflects their scene/culture (“Tarts Welcome” & “I don’t remember her name…but her apartment.”) It’s really not snobby, but a blunt observation of the writing on the wall and a concern for the disappearance of bad adolescent behavior in people who haven’t been teenager for nearly a decade or so: people aren’t “growing up” and leaving this ind of behavior behind.

        Even though I myself never exhibited such behavior even in my teens and in college (early 30s now) being a pensive sort with higher ethical standards I’m much more understanding if it was a high school or college freshman (maybe sophmore) phase to accept whatever was spoonfed your way and behave loudly and recklessly/thoughtlessly on a weekend out (observe Dinkytown, 1st Ave, or Uptown around Hennepin-Lake-Lagoon). But instead we want to attract and fill the city with another 100,000 people for which this is not a phase, but a way of life?

        Well, at least they’ll stay in the city longer, but we also want to give the couples that get preggie and have to get married for the kid’s sake a fast commute out to EP to their 3 bed home that’s way cheaper than any in the city? Even in the context of a “luxury condos will save the city” approach there’s no sensible logic on the part of the city to support this line and ensure a loss of residents and jobs to the exurbs.

        • Matt Steele April 23, 2014 at 9:30 pm #

          Dude, we get it, you’re a hipster. Nobody’s arguing that at this point.
          😉

    • Scott Shaffer
      Scott Shaffer April 21, 2014 at 12:16 pm #

      City-lovers should be able to co-exist with people of different tastes. I don’t like the Uptown Tavern, and I didn’t like Drink before it. So I go to other places.

      The American tradition of expelling Others with zoning codes and red lines is long and ugly.

  17. Nathanael April 22, 2014 at 10:24 pm #

    I still think Northstar would be far more successful if it went to St. Cloud. It’s really an intercity line, not a “commuter” line. But if it went to St. Cloud it would be a *good* intercity line, connecting to a city with a university. As it is it just sort of peters out in the middle of nowhere.

    • Nathanael April 22, 2014 at 10:28 pm #

      Of course, the rail line I really want to see ASAP is the Midtown Greenway route. For god’s sake, why not? It would be cheap to build, completely grade-separated, connected to Hiawatha LRT immediately, and extremely useful, running through a dense *commercial* district the entire way.

      Yet so far, all we have is a bikeway. Hmmph.

      • minneapolisite April 23, 2014 at 7:52 pm #

        Hey, what’s wrong with the bikeway? Seriously, we should be adding lines to that instead of streetcars tearing up streets and harming businesses to for several months to connect to the LRT as slow as a bus. The Midtown Greenway has proven highly successful and proves that we actually need to expand this infrastructure elsewhere. Why haven’t we built on this success? We know that it gets much higher usage than other bike facilities, especially bike lanes,precisely because it is a separated facility that gets you from point A to B (provided that A and/or B are along this stretch) and you don’t have to worry about cars for much of its length.

        Why I’m the only one talking about this, even on streets.mn of all places is a mystery to me. I’m not talking about jetpack pie-in-the-sky transportation options here, I’m just saying that an below-ground bike highway has proven itself a success, so since we don’t have an unused railbed to go up north from Uptown to Downtown just a block over from Hennepin the entire length, why not invest in an above-ground bike highway/multi-use path that goes directly over Hennepin to Downtown and tourists will be flocking here: especially from Portland and even cycling infrastructure experts from Amsterdam.

        This is the only “-way” of any kind that will actually get you from Uptown to Downtown faster than a car, bus,streetcar, BRT, or LRT (since no Uptown station means it’s just not an option by default). Much, much faster in fact. This would deliver by far the shortest commute option between the two areas. It’s also safe to say that it would have much higher ridership numbers than the Midtown Greenway since there are dense population and visitor centers on either end and unlike much of the Midtown Greenway would have entrances/exits that take drop you off in destination-rich areas along its entire length. Yes, it would cost as much as the Nicollet-Central streetcar line, but you’d already be Downtown/Uptown instead of sitting in the streetcar only having moved a couple blocks since you’re stuck in traffic.

        I do want to see the Midtown streetcar instead of SWLRT w/o a doubt, but in large part because really it’ll act more like LRT by being totally separated unlike the Nicollet-Central streetcar which will operate sluggishly in traffic with cars and buses and make too many stops on top of that.

        • Nathanael April 24, 2014 at 5:15 pm #

          Oh, the bikeway is a fine thing, but *a hell of a lot of us can’t use bikes*. My fiancee with arthritis in the knees certainly can’t, although that’s the extreme example.

          “I do want to see the Midtown streetcar instead of SWLRT w/o a doubt, but in large part because really it’ll act more like LRT by being totally separated ”

          We are agreed.

        • Nathanael April 24, 2014 at 5:16 pm #

          ” unlike the Nicollet-Central streetcar which will operate sluggishly in traffic with cars and buses”
          Oh God they are actually proposing mixed traffic?

          Is there some way to convince them to not do that? It needs its own lane. It’s OK if it crosses cross streets at grade, but it needs its own lane. Like the B and C branches of the Green Line in Boston.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. The Far Ride: My Fat Bike Winter Affair - April 19, 2014

    […] Dense Strategies: Southwest And Different LRT Lines | streets.mn […]

  2. Sunday Summary | streets.mn - April 28, 2014

    […] Dense Ideas: Southwest And Other LRT Lines provides more review of the SWLRT and the density (or lack of it) along the line as well as the bias/assumption that the purpose is to bring suburban residents into the city for work or vice versa, but not serve the neighborhoods. […]

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