The Southwest Light Rail Transit project doesn’t just need tracks, trains and stations to be successful. It needs roads, trails and sidewalks to get people to the platform. It needs planning and zoning to maximize development potential. It needs infrastructure upgrades that mesh well with all the new changes.
In order to ensure everything is ready when the line opens in 2018, officials are undertaking “Transitional Station Area Action Planning” (TSAAP) to “promote opening day readiness by bridging the gap between current conditions and future needs.”
Officials discussed how that planning is going at Tuesday’s City Council meeting—and noted some of the steps that still need to be taken. Plans are still in draft form and could change.
Planners will take the concepts to the public in a April during a series of open houses. The Hopkins open house has tentatively been scheduled for April 9, said Kersten Elverum, the city’s director of economic development and planning.
Below is the draft of what officials have identified as the “opening day considerations” for Hopkins’ three stations. Take a look at the challenges and then use the comments section to share your thoughts on what Hopkins needs around the stations.
Opening Day Considerations
Shady Oak Station
- Extension of 17th Avenue to the station platform.
- Making the station platform accessible from both the north and the south so that it serves people coming in from outside the community, as well as the large population of likely transit users in south Hopkins.
- An open space or park connecting the station to the nearby school, Central Park and the downtown. The open space would make what is now an industrial area feel more safe and inviting and gives riders a way to head into the western part of the central business district.
- Shared parking that serves park-and-ride users, while still allowing for redevelopment.
- A “kiss-and-ride” that allows drivers to quickly drop off passengers who are riding the rail.
- Bike commuter facilities.
- “Wayfinding,” or directing people to the places they want to go.
- The Eighth Avenue “ARTery,” a stretch of Eighth Avenue that Hopkins aims to transform into a “pedestrian-seductive” corridor. The possibilities under consideration would create a one-way, art-filled, pedestrian- and bike-friendly street that entices visitors into Hopkins’ downtown.
- Johnson Building redevelopment. The building is an office and warehouse space at 810 First St. S. Planners want a project built right up to Excelsior Boulevard to shrink the visual distance between the light rail station and the north side of Excelsior.
- “WOW — sense of arrival.” Hopkins wants to make the Downtown Station a destination stop. To do that, the stop must convey to light rail riders that there’s something special there.
- A strong visual connection between the station and downtown Hopkins.
- A transit plaza.
- Bike parking and infrastructure. Elverum said the city wants cyclist-friendly offerings like bike storage and bike maintenance at one of the stations. The Downtown Station currently seems to have the most promise for that. Bus lay-by stop.
- Blake Road streetscape improvements. The city wants to transform Blake Road into a “complete street” that is more pedestrian and bike friendly between Excelsior and Highway 7.
- Improved pedestrian crossings.
- Land acquisition to get the park and ride southwest of the light rail line, where it is more visible and less disruptive to traffic circulation than the current proposed location of 43 Hoops.
- A trail through 43 Hoops so the neighborhoods north of the station can access the station.
- Improved pedestrian connection to nearby businesses.