Tuesday, October 28, 2008

A Streetcar along the Midtown Greenway

Following up on the post from yesterday I wanted to talk about what will eventually being sharing the greenway with bikers, joggers, and everyone who uses it: a streetcar. Currently all the talk in the Twin Cities has been about the new central corridor line which will connect downtown Minneapolis with downtown St. Paul with a new light rail line running along University Avenue, less attention has been given to the three alternative routes for the Southwest light rail line.

All three of the alternatives have merit, but it seems that if the route was 3A along the current trail would make sense. As the third pic illustrates the two light rail lines can then be connected by a streetcar that runs along the greenway. The streetcar itself would provide service to many neighborhoods. The most obvious stops along the greenway would be Southwest light rail, Hennepin, Lyndale, Nicollet, Chicago, Cedar, and then making the connection at Hiawatha (55). Not only would this give more service to more residents, the connections between the two light rail lines would be an option when going to south Minneapolis. This alternative would function much like the Shuttle (S) lines in New York. These shuttle lines function connecting two major lines and providing local service to the neighborhoods around them. This same concept should be the purpose of the streetcar.

This transit corridor would be truly multi-modal and would provide even more options for residents. Also, downtown Minneapolis would no longer have to be the main hub for suburban bus commuters, instead they could be dropped off at a light rail and/or streetcar stop. Also, extending the streetcar to local streets in the future would be much easier if an existing line already existed. Finally, the twin cities needs to stay away from the idea of building tunnels, that is 20th century technology for aging subway systems. The Twin Cities needs to keep miving forward building this network and use existing at grade streets and trails.

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