Midtown Corridor Alternatives Analysis
Rail in the Greenway and Enhanced Bus on Lake Street are advanced
The 18-month long Midtown Corridor Alternatives Analysis study was completed in February, with a recommendation for both Rail in the Midtown Greenway and an Enhanced Bus on Lake Street.
The study evaluated over 20 criteria, including ridership data, costs and travel times. In addition to the goal of increasing transit ridership in the corridor, the evaluation focused on supporting equity in the corridor, saving costs, strengthening economic development, and building on the vibrancy and diversity of the corridor.
Ridership data for both lines proved very strong: a Streetcar on the Greenway and an Enhanced Bus on Lake would add an estimated 17,400 transit riders to the corridor each day. Currently the travel time from West Lake to Hiawatha on a bus is about 42 minutes for the 4.4 miles; a Streetcar in the Greenway could make the trip in an impressive 13 minutes, dramatically improving trip time for local riders. The enhanced bus would travel that stretch in 30 minutes, and continue beyond Hiawatha to the Green Line in St. Paul.
The Midtown Greenway Coalition worked to engage the community throughout the duration of the study. When Metro Transit’s initial drafts of the rail line were infrastructure-intensive, requiring miles of concrete retaining walls and mostly double track, we worked with designers to develop an alternate plan. This proposal—which was presented in addition to the infrastructure-heavy concept—is significantly more Greenway-friendly, including turf (grass) track, fewer retaining walls, and more single-track sections. Click here for an illustration of double-track turf track, courtesy of Metro Transit.
Additionally, we conducted nearly 400 surveys bilingually in English and Spanish, listened to transit feedback from riders at the Chicago Ave transit hub, and presented to neighborhood associations along the corridor, sharing our results with project advisory committees.
The February recommendation of both Rail and Enhanced Bus was passed unanimously by the Policy Advisory Committee, and will be advanced to the Metropolitan Council for further consideration.
The project has come in a very positive direction, but will take significant community engagement in the future to ensure its success. Upcoming analyses will continue to address rail vehicle type, single/double track segments, use of turf track, station area design, and bicycle and pedestrian path synergy with the line. As we sustain our advocacy for a Greenway-friendly line, we encourage you to stay engaged in the planning process through our paper newsletter, e-news, and social media updates.
Please email Rebecca@midtowngreenway.org with any questions about the project.
To learn more and view project materials visit: http://www.metrotransit.org/midtown-corridor
At Metro Transit's November Open Houses, we were pleased to see visualizations of the turf track options for the Midtown Greenway, as well as for single track. The enhanced bus stations on Lake Street were also shown. All boards from the November event, including detailed evaluation criteria, station drafts and visualizations, extended bus information, and a project timeline can be viewed here.
For an archive of info from all Metro Transit meetings and events, as well as supplementary info, click here.
Metro Transit is still collecting information from the community! The survey will be available until December 31, 2013. Public feedback, along with the technical evaluation, will assist the Midtown Corridor Policy Advisory Committee in selecting the locally preferred alternative on February 12, 2014.
In November, Metro Transit will be recommending a final proposal to the Community for the Midtown Corridor: either an enhanced bus on Lake Street, or a Streetcar on the Greenway (or a combination option including both).
November is the third and final stage in the community review process to make the decision, followed by a recommendation to the Policy Advisory Committee and a vote by the Met Council in Jan/Feb 2014.
Last month, Metro Transit held its second set of Open Houses for the public, working to share the latest progress on the Alternatives Analysis and elicit feedback from community members. Approximately 110 people showed up to learn more and voice their opinions.
In early May, the so-called “Universe of Alternatives” was formally narrowed in scope from twelve different proposals by the Policy Advisory Committee. The Open Houses showcased the final three contenders:
1) A Streetcar in the Midtown Greenway path, stretching 4.4 mi from the Hiawatha light rail to the future SW light rail line.
2) An Enhanced Bus on Lake Street with the same boundaries. Enhanced buses would look different than typical buses: most notably, the driver would have the capacity to delay lights from turning red, and payment would take place before boarding to speed the bus’s waiting time.
3) Both a Streetcar in the Greenway and an Enhanced Bus on Lake Street. The bus in this option would stretch significantly beyond the original study area of this project, traveling to meet up with the future Green Line Light Rail at University Ave and Snelling Ave in St. Paul; the Streetcar would remain the same.
The Alternatives Analysis is a federally funded, in-depth study led by Metro Transit, with periodic community discussion opportunities. Metro Transit expects the next round to take place this Fall, as the recommendation for a transitway is unveiled. The next stage of information that will likely be revealed at the end of the summer: station locations, service plans, running time, operating and maintenance costs, capital costs, right of way impacts, and the much-anticipated ridership data, to understand the critical details of the three proposed options.
The coalition is currently conducting surveys to understand community uses and habits surrounding the Greenway and Lake Street -- please take our survey!
The Metro Transit evaluation committee for the Midtown Corridor Alternatives Analysis (AA) RFP reviewed and ranked submitted proposals, and has recommended award of the AA to SRF Consulting Group, Inc. This award will have to be approved by Metropolitan Council vote.
SRF Consulting Group provided design and engineering services for the initial construction of the Midtown Greenway, for the Hennepin County Regional Rail Authority and the City of Minneapolis.
SRF also worked on the Arterial Transitway Corridor Study, which studied potential arterial bus rapid transit applications in 11 Twin Cities-area corridors including the Lake Street Corridor.
The Midtown Greenway Coalition held a planning workshop with members of communities all along the Midtown Greenway. We came up with creative solutions to connectivity and open space issues for the station areas, and brainstormed how to create a unified Midtown Corridor with the Greenway complementing and connecting to Lake Street businesses.
The Midtown Greenway Coalition has been reaching out to the neighborhoods along the Greenway to talk about the upcoming Midtown Corridor Alternatives Analysis. Eight neighborhoods so far have renewed their support of the Midtown Greenway grass-embedded streetcar vision for the upcoming AA: CARAG, Corcoran, ECCO, East Phillips, Midtown Phillips, Phillips West, and Whittier. Thank you for your support!
The Midtown Corridor Alternatives Analysis Request for Proposals (RFP) has been issued. Proposals will be due on May 18, 2012 at 5pm. The award date will be in July 2012.
Metro Transit has been awarded $600,000 by the Federal Transit Administration to help fund an Alternatives Analysis (AA) study for the Midtown Corridor. The Midtown Corridor AA will review several options for transit improvements between the West Lake Station on the Southwest LRT line and the Lake Street/Midtown Station on the Hiawatha LRT line.
What is an Alternatives Analysis?
An Alternatives Analysis is a study that evaluates all reasonable modal and multimodal alternatives and alignment options for identified transportation needs in a particular, broadly defined travel corridor. The Alternatives Analysis program is a federal program, providing financial assistance for these evaluations.
What is the Midtown Corridor Alternatives Analysis studying?
Metro Transit was granted funds by the federal Alternatives Analysis program for the Midtown Corridor Alternatives Analysis (AA). The Midtown Corridor AA will determine the benefits, costs and impact of implementing a transitway along either the Midtown Greenway or Lake Street in south Minneapolis. The project will recommend the best alignment (along the Greenway or on Lake Street) as well as the best mode for the corridor: light rail, streetcar or bus rapid transit.
Who is involved?
Metro Transit is partnering with the City of Minneapolis, Hennepin County and other community groups on the project. The Midtown Greenway Coalition will play an advisory role on both the Policy Advisory Committee and the Technical Advisory Committee.
When will the study take place?
The Midtown Corridor AA is scheduled to kick-off in the fall of 2012, and is expected to take 12-18 months to complete.
How can I stay informed or get involved?
The Midtown Greenway Coalition will update this website regularly with information about the Midtown Corridor AA. Public meetings and hearings will be posted here, and be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter for up-to-the-minute news.