As mentioned in a previous post, the Metropolitan Council is currently conducting a Midtown Corridor Alternatives Analysis. On January 28th and 29th they held thier first public open house for the study. The Open House was well attended; in attendance were members of the Midtown Greenway Coalition, members of the Minneapolis Bicycle Coaition, Metropolitain Council representatives, neighbothood organizations, interested citizens, and staff members from SRF Consulting and ZAN Associates - the two organizations carrying out the study and outreach efforts.The open house consisted of presentation boards describing the study and its purpose along with Q and A with team meambers involved.
So what exactly is the purpose of the Midtown Corridor Alternatives Analysis? According to the Met. Council, its to "provide high quality, convenient transit service tyhat meets current and future travel needs, attracts new riders and supports sustainable growth and development in the corridor." The corridor runs from the proposed Southwest Light Rail line on the west end (near Lake Calhoun and Lake of the Isles) to the existing Hiawatha light rail line on the east end. The two routes in question are the Midtown Greenway and Lake Street. Both the City of Minneapolis and Hennepin County plan to implement an improved transitway along one of these routes in the near future.
So why exactly should bike enthusiasts care? The Midtown Greenway is owned by the Hennepin County Regional Railroad Authority and the city has planned to turn the corridor into a transit amenity since before the Greenway's inception. Bikes have become a huge part of the corridor and will remain so into the foreseeable future. If a public transit line is built along the Greenway it will happen on the southside, which is currently bare and blocked by chain link fence throughout - the bike and pedestrian paths will remain on the north side.
Many questions remain, such as is there room for enhanced transit along Lake Street or would the Greenway serve as a better route with dedicated transit space? The Midtown Greenway Coalition has been pushing for a streetcar line on the Greenway's southside for multiple reasons, including enhanced safety along the corridor (more people traveling along it equals more "eyese on the street" and streetcar conductors could easily access local police if they saw crime occuring), increased connectivitely between the Greenway and Lake Street, fast reliable transit service across town wihtin a dedicated transitway, and increased opportunities for development that typically follow train line construction.
The study will continue to occur over the rest of 2013 with a tentatively planned early 2014 release date for the final decision. To stay up to date on the study visit www.midtowntransitway.org.