The City of Hopkins is urging planners to use caution when considering building park and rides at the three Southwest Light Rail Transit stations planned in the community.
The public comment period on the project’s draft environmental impact statement (DEIS) closed Dec. 31. The DEIS will be used to judge project impacts and is the primary document for review by federal, state and local agencies and the general public.
Hopkins’ official comments include modest corrections, notes about omissions and details about upcoming development plans. Yet much of the discussion centers on the city’s worries about park and rides at the three stations—Blake Road, Downtown Hopkins and Shady Oak.
Click on the PDF to the right of this article to read the full list of Hopkins comments.
Downtown Hopkins Station
City officials have long envisioned the Downtown Hopkins 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.
Hopkins’ DEIS comments warned that building a park and ride there instead could impede this vision by taking land that could be used for redevelopment. The station is planned to be south of Excelsior Boulevard at Eighth Avenue. But Hopkins argues that any park and ride should be a shared parking facility north of Eighth Avenue North and First Street—on the other side of Excelsior Boulevard.
It also suggested pedestrian and bike connections through the Eighth Avenue corridor, increased visibility and wayfinding, public art and a circulator bus or trolley.
“The land around the Downtown Hopkins station is extremely valuable and the City of Hopkins is concerned that commuter parking will not add to the economic viability of the historic downtown,” the city’s comments stated.
Blake Road Station
Hopkins envisions more parking at the other two stations but still urged caution when considering standalone park and rides.
At the Blake Road station, the city argued that such a park and ride would create traffic problems and fail to benefit the community. Consequently, it suggested that any park and ride to be a joint effort where park and ride and redevelopment parking needs are “shared and consolidated.”
The city also doesn’t like the current proposal for the Blake Road park and ride location—at 43 Hoops at 1002 Second St. NE. It could lead to congestion and encourage drivers to travel through local streets, the city said. Putting the park and ride between the Blake Road platform would mitigate traffic problems and allow more land to be redeveloped.
Redevelopment is a major focus in the Blake Road corridor. The city is and Minnehaha Creek Watershed District have been working together to improve the Cottageville Park area. Closer to the station, the 17-acre Cold Storage site offers a major opportunity for improvement.
“Additionally, the Blake Road Station area is particularly ripe for redevelopment that supports transit,” the city stated in its DEIS comments.”
Shady Oak Station
Hopkins is much more on board with the idea of a park and ride at the Shady Oak station. Although it emphasized the need to maximize development around the site and ensure good access, it recognized the need for the station to provide parking for commuters across a large region to the northwest, including Minnetonka and Lake Minnetonka communities.
The city’s comments even suggested moving some spaces planned for the Downtown Hopkins Station to the Shady Oak Station.
How well do you think park and rides fit Hopkins’ proposed light rail stations? Share your thoughts in the comments.