Light Rail Meeting

Light Rail Meeting

Published on Feb 25, 2013 by Pat Backen

post-thumb

Thursday night I was on my way to Bottineau Boulevard Community Advisory Committee (which I usually just call the “light rail meeting” meeting so my family knows where I am going) and I started thinking about how far this process has come in just the past 2 years I have been a member.

My first meeting included a presentation on the routes chosen after the long Alternative Analysis (the study of many possible routes).

Now I was driving along one of the potential routes, on my way to get an update on a major study needed for the grant proposal.

Two years sounds like forever, but in that time there have been thousands of hours of combined study, public hearings, committee meetings and planning. Others, like fellow council-member and chairman of the committee George Selman, have been part of this process for 10 years.

As it stands, the “Locally Preferred Alternative” (LPA) is a route that travels through Robbinsdale on the current Burlington Northern rail corridor. The LPA was approved by the Hennepin County board after all cities along the line passed resolutions in favor of the route.

This same route is proposed to be added to the Met Council’s Transportation Policy Plan on April 24th. There will be two opportunities for public comment, including one in Robbinsdale (see below). Stop by and express your opinions on the plan – for or against – it really does make a difference!

Love or hate light rail transit, this is an interesting time to be involved in the process. See below for more details of the meeting.

Committee members and citizens met at Northpoint Health Center at the corner of Penn and Plymouth Avenue in North Minneapolis – meetings have started to rotate around the corridor to enable easy access for different residents.

There is a little bit of a lull in public comment as the county works on a key report in the grant process. But we had a number of updates on several important developments:

Map-21

[“MAP-21”] (https://www.transit.dot.gov/regulations-and-guidance/legislation/map-21/map-21) is the recently passed Federal Transit Administration guidelines that will impact the grant request from the federal government. While there were some changes to the current guidelines, they happened early enough to be accounted for in the formal request. Most of the changes (streamlined evaluation process, improved cost calculation formulas) were considered improvements by the Hennepin County staff.

Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS)

The DEIS is a major step in the project and has been submitted for review at the FTA, a process that all projects undertake before being finalized and released for public comment. During this time there are very strict rules about information being released, and we were limited to seeing the table of contents. The study covers all aspects of the line including all the routes considered during the process, socioeconomic and land use impacts, parkland and recreation area impacts, visual and aesthetics, safety and security and more. The timing for release is not yet known.

Itasca Project

Presentation about a return on investment report for completion of the current metro wide transit plan. The Itasca Project sponsored the report. The members of the group include metro area leaders and business executives. The group hired a top research company to study the effects of transit on the metro area, and expected return on investment. The report found that an investment in transit would return a significant benefit.

Legislative Report

Update on various bills being discussed at the legislature, including raising metro area dedicated sales tax from .25 of one cent.

Additional Public Meetings

There are several meetings coming up for more information and public feedback. They cover two specific aspects of this long, long process.

  • Wirth Park community meetings

    • Community Meeting, February 27th 6-8pm
    • Community Open House, March 2nd Noon – 2pm
  • Metropolitan Council Public Comment meetings on Transportation Policy Plan Amendment

    • Public Meeting
    • 5:00-7:00 p.m., Thursday, March 7, 2013
  • Robbinsdale City Hall

    • Public Hearing
    • 5:00 p.m., Monday, March 11, 2013