Parking is among the City of Hopkins’ biggest concerns about the project. Officials’ response to the Southwest LRT’s draft environmental impact statement, the primary review document, focused heavily on the prospect of park and rides at the three stations—Blake, Downtown and Shady Oak. They worry that parking could create traffic problems and take land that could be used for redevelopment.
The city has had particular worries about parking at the Downtown Station. Planners have long envisioned the station as a so-called “kiss and ride” that would have minimal parking and an active Eighth Avenue streetscape to entice light rail riders in the downtown.
But the Southwest LRT project also needs sufficient parking for the commuters who will make the line financially viable. The Draft Environmental Impact Statement assumed 15 of the 17 new stations would have park-and-ride facilities and estimated that the project would need 3,500 park-and-ride spaces along the line.
Planners are looking at park-and-ride spaces more closely during the engineering process, a Met Council spokeswoman told Patch via e-mail. Initial work estimates the following need at Hopkins stations to accommodate projected demand in 2030:
- Shady Oak Station: 400 spaces
- Hopkins Station: 200 spaces
- Blake Station: 235 spaces
Hopkins hasn’t objected to a Shady Oak park and ride. To the contrary, it’s recognized the need for the station to provide parking for commuters across a large region to the northwest, including Minnetonka and Lake Minnetonka communities.
But if Hopkins stands firm on its plan to have a kiss and ride at the Downtown Station, the other Hopkins station would have to pick up the spaces planned for the Downtown.
The Southwest Light Rail project is currently in the preliminary engineering phase, which began in the beginning of the year and is expected to last about two years. About 30 percent of the design work will be done once preliminary engineering is complete.