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Will Southwest Light Rail Cause Traffic Jams in Hopkins?

Let’s do the math.

A Hiawatha train runs in downtown Minneapolis.
A Hiawatha train runs in downtown Minneapolis.

Hopkins is fortunate enough to not have too many Southwest Light Rail Transit road crossings on heavily trafficked roads. But Mayor Gene Maxwell wondered if there could be problems in one location: the crossing at Fifth Avenue and Excelsior Boulevard.

On Tuesday, Maxwell questioned whether trucks would back up as they entered and exited the Supervalu warehouse—especially when additional development adds to the traffic.

Hopkins City Engineer John Bradford and Southwest LRT planners walked the council through the math:

  • There will be 200 to 220 light rail trains per day.
  • That means a train will arrive at the Downtown Station every seven minutes at peak times.
  • Trains will take about 20 to 30 seconds to clear the station.
  • Trains will be about 270 feet long, a fraction of the length of a freight train.

Light rail clearly won’t hurt Excelsior traffic since it drivers can continue to move along even when train cross Fifth Avenue. And it should also leave a good amount of time for Fifth Avenue drivers to move through the intersection. The key, Bradford said, will be syncing the lights.


Eric Anondson August 15, 2013 at 12:08 PM
If access across the rail line becomes a significant delay, the trucks can simply get off 169 at the Lincoln/7th exits, take the 2nd ave S frontage road around to 3rd street south and never bother with the rail crossing. Cheap and no back up on excelsior.
gordon sanderson August 15, 2013 at 01:10 PM
WHY all the negativity,think of all the pluses
Dave B August 15, 2013 at 01:13 PM
If the light rail will cross at Excelsior and Jackson, in front of the new Cargill buildings it will. When pedestrians or bikers use the crosswalk signal there and at the Depot light, it creates a big mess, especially at rush hour. You should see it now!
Eric Anondson August 15, 2013 at 01:43 PM
The LRT proposal is to eliminate the Excelsior-trail crossing that runs parallel with the rail crossing, moving all trail traffic to cross Excelsior where the 169 on-off ramp traffic lights are, but the trail use crossing Excelsior is not relevant to the issue of the SuperValu truck traffic backing up.
James Warden (Editor) August 15, 2013 at 03:39 PM
Dave B, the light rail will cross on a bridge over Excelsior, so it shouldn't impact traffic there.
Dave B August 16, 2013 at 10:06 AM
James, thanks for the clarification. That would have been a nightmare.
James Warden (Editor) August 16, 2013 at 10:27 AM
Dave B, it may actually get better in that area. The city and park district are asking for a regional trail bridge over Excelsior to be included in the project. It's no sure deal since it's not part of the core expenses, but it is on the radar: http://hopkins.patch.com/groups/politics-and-elections/p/hopkins-wants-up-to-37m-in-southwest-lrt-improvements

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