Monday, May 20, 2013
The proposed sales tax for transit improvements did not make it into the final transportation bill.
The presidents of the Minneapolis Regional Chamber and Saint Paul Area Chamber on Sunday condemned the Legislature’s inability to approve a dedicated funding source to expand Twin Cities transit. Last month, the Minneapolis and Saint Paul chambers endorsed a metrowide sales tax of up to half a cent that would have funded transit improvements. Transit tax proposals presented during the session ranged from a quarter of a cent to three-quarters of a cent. However, a sales tax for transit did not make it in to the final version of the Omnibus Transportation Finance bill. The bill did include $37 million to keep the Southwest Light Rail Transit project moving forward. But Minneapolis chamber President Todd Klingel and Saint Paul chamber …
Wednesday, May 8, 2013
City leaders are upset about potential loss of tax base and redevelopment opportunities.
Hopkins leaders are mounting an effort to keep out the Southwest Light Rail Transit operation and maintenance facility that will service trains along the corridor. On Wednesday, the Hopkins Business and Civic Association (HBCA) board sent out an e-mail reminding members about a public meeting on the controversial facility and encouraging them to attend. And last month, Mayor Gene Maxwell sent the Southwest LRT project office a letter criticizing the way the sites were selected. “Hopkins is very interested in making this project a success, but fairness to our residents, property owners, and disadvantaged populations must be part of the discussion,” Maxwell wrote. Click the PDF to the right of this article to read the full letter and see the…
Friday, May 3, 2013
Hopkins officials worry that a maintenance facility could take away from the tax base and eliminate development opportunities.
Hopkins accounts for nearly half the sites on a short list of possible locations for a Southwest Light Rail Transit operation and maintenance facility that will service trains along the corridor, according to a list the Metropolitan Council released to Patch on Thursday. The project’s draft environmental impact statement identified just six possible sites where the facility could be located—five sites in Eden Prairie and one in Minneapolis. However, planners decided that the start of preliminary engineering was a good time to take a look at more sites and they eventually identified 18 sites. The latest list narrows the candidates to nine sites. Those sites are: The maintenance facility is the site where light rail vehicles will be cleaned…
Wednesday, April 10, 2013
Hopkins officials oppose the use of the sites because it would take away from the tax base and eliminate development opportunities.
Hopkins is bracing for pressure to use property in the community for a Southwest Light Rail Transit operation and maintenance facility that will service trains along the corridor. The project’s draft environmental impact statement identified just six possible sites where the facility could be located—five sites in Eden Prairie and one in Minneapolis. However, planners decided that the start of preliminary engineering was a good time to take a look at more sites. They’ve now identified 18 sites, including four in Hopkins. The sites are: (The list also includes a site made up of five parcels on K-tel Drive, just across the border in Minnetonka. Click on the PDFs to the right of this article to see maps of local sites and list of candidate …
Tuesday, April 2, 2013
The Southwest Light Rail project needs park and rides so commuters can use the trains.
Early parking projections for the Southwest Light Rail Transit project estimate that Hopkins’ three stations would need to provide about 835 spots between them, the Metropolitan Council told Patch. 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…
Saturday, March 23, 2013
A report commissioned by American Public Transportation Association and the National Association of Realtors found that homes with access to transit weather downturns better.
Thursday, March 21, 2013
Study ordered by National Association of Realtors found that homes with access to transit weather downturns better.
Friday, March 15, 2013
Planners are identifying the improvements that are necessary to make the light rail transit project successful from day one.
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. …
Thursday, March 14, 2013
The exact impact of the project on the coffee house isn’t yet known, but city officials want to ensure the site is protected.
Officials have begun examining how to best to protect Hopkins’ historic sites from Southwest Light Rail Transit construction. The Southwest LRT’s draft environmental impact statement (DEIS) has already identified three nearby historic places in Hopkins that likely qualify for the National Register: Hopkins City Hall, Hopkins’ downtown and The Depot Coffee House. Light rail likely wouldn’t hurt either of the first two sites, said Kersten Elverum, the city’s director of economic development and planning. But the new route is supposed to run right by The Depot—a former Minneapolis & St. Louis train depot built in 1903—as the line rises to cross over Excelsior. The line will likely need to start climbing near The Depot. Planners don’t yet know…
Monday, March 4, 2013
Using video games like SimCity to investigate the real world can be informative, but players must also beware of the games’ underlying assumptions.
The debate over the Southwest Light Rail Transit project has been a bitter one, but it’s one that video gamers may be able to investigate from the comfort of their living rooms and home offices this week. That’s the promise offered by the quarter-century-old video game series SimCity—the latest version of which comes out Tuesday. The game offers a variety of transportation options and a development model that centers on how well a virtual community’s transportation corridors are operating. There’s just one problem, though. Just as critics and supporters in the Southwest LRT debate have their biases, the SimCity model has its own assumptions, as well as simplifications made for the sake of gameplay. The result can be a less-than-faithful …