B Line Lake St Rapid Bus, Midtown Rail Transit

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HiawathaGuy
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Re: Midtown Greenway

Postby HiawathaGuy » December 12th, 2018, 11:23 am

With the Green Line extension moving forward now, does anyone have any ideas about how we get the Greenway transit plan back to the forefront? Will that just happen naturally with Hennepin County/Met Council if/when State Leadership looks at possible new funding options? Just seems like now would be the time to be looking at having that open in conjunction with the 2023 Green Line extensions...

mattaudio
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Re: Midtown Greenway

Postby mattaudio » December 12th, 2018, 12:00 pm

I was just looking at the West Lake station area plan (thinking about rerouting the 6 up Xerxes to 39th to France to West Lake once the E Line runs on France south of 44th) and how it's not easily adjustable to serve Midtown LRT.

If the shallow tunnel portal just north of the station was split, then Midtown LRT could enter in the middle and use the same island platform for both services. This would prevent the type of interlocking bs we see in Downtown East where the Green and Blue split.

There would be a few ways to do this, either have a single track from midtown enter in the middle then split to both sides of the platform, or have a flying junction using the tunnel portal with two tracks leading to midtown (could handle more capacity on Midtown). Then, on the west side of the West Lake station platform, have a center pocket track for Midtown trains to pull in and reverse, similar to how the Blue Line did it at Fort Snelling station for the first few months of operation.

It seems like we're making a big mistake having no provisions for Midtown LRT to integrate with West Lake station. It's expected that Midtown LRT would terminate at single tracks and platforms separate and adjacent to the Green Line (at West Lake) and the Blue Line (at Midtown-Lake Street). That's pathetic, and it prevents future connectivity and extension of services. More failure of "corridor mindset" rather than "system mindset."

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Re: Midtown Greenway

Postby bubzki2 » December 12th, 2018, 1:32 pm

Slightly related; has anyone considered how the Midtown Greenway trail extension over the river could accommodate or dovetail with the Midtown corridor? Could we conceivable get rail service on this line into Saint Paul?

mattaudio
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Re: Midtown Greenway

Postby mattaudio » December 12th, 2018, 1:52 pm

Yes, the major obstacles being:
1. How do you interface with the Blue Line and continue east of Hiawatha? The Greenway curves northeast at Cedar, crossing Hiawatha at 28th St, but hitting the Midtown-Lake Street station would be critical for transfers and for Midtown ridership.
2. East of Hiawatha, the Greenway runs at 27th St instead of 29th St, meaning it's 3x the walking distance to Lake Street destinations vs the Greenway west of Hiawatha.

HiawathaGuy
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Re: Midtown Greenway

Postby HiawathaGuy » December 12th, 2018, 2:52 pm

I just really want to figure out how we can get Midtown back on the radar... A lot has changed since the Lake Street/Midtown study several years ago, both politically and development-wise. At that time, a dual line plan with the aBRT B Line on Lake Street & a Midtown rail option was estimated at ~$270 million. I feel like there needs to be greater pressure on this now - and was hoping someone on here might know how we can do that? Ideally, both ends of whatever rail happens would interline with the two LRT lines - but I can understand how there may not be an appetite for that (or at least their wasn't when Met Council looked into the options). Even more reason to dust this off and reassess given the changes of the past 5 years.

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Re: Midtown Greenway

Postby alexschief » December 12th, 2018, 3:11 pm

The process of Midtown rail to date hasn't been serious. The insistence on the mode being called a streetcar, despite the entire right-of-way being dedicated and thus not being an accurate label, speaks to a lack of good faith interest in the project as a transportation service. This, despite the population within a half mile of this four mile corridor being roughly equivalent to the populations along the Green and Blue line extensions. Some things that the original study traded away, like single-lining and not interlining at the ends are just obviously unacceptable. There are also at least two stations too many. I do think however, that the design of the West Lake Station (while threading the needle) is not fatal to a Midtown Route connection on the same platforms. Obviously that would require an engineering study to determine exactly what that would need to make work.

As for the route outside of the studied area, transit ridership in the Midtown corridor east of Hiawatha drops off noticeably. It's still high, but the future B-Line would be sufficient to serve it, and it's hard to justify some kind of S-curve needed to make the connection for Midtown rail at the Lake Street and then return to the Midtown ROW and continue east.

On its eastern end, it makes the most sense for any Midtown Rail route to either curve north at grade towards the Franklin Station or curve south via a bridge towards the East Lake Station. In both cases, the Midtown Rail service would travel concurrently with the Blue Line until a suitable point to branch off. For the northbound route, that would probably mean a wye just past Cedar Riverside, which would make a tempting University to Uptown rail connection. For the southbound route, the only option that makes sense to me would be to branch just after the 46th Street Station and make a connection through the Ford CP spur to the Riverview route, which would scratch the TOD itch in a big way.

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Tiller
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Re: Midtown Greenway

Postby Tiller » December 12th, 2018, 3:24 pm

Short/mid-term it may not make sense to through-route midtown streetcar/LRT with the greenway extension, though they should still preserve some extra ROW for future transit.

Along with initially extending the greenway, Ayd Mill Rd reconstruction is on the horizon now. It's a great opportunity to tear out a shitty highway, banking the ROW for a trail and future transit (like the midtown greenway).

https://streets.mn/2018/03/30/ayd-mill- ... money-pit/

mattaudio
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Re: Midtown Greenway

Postby mattaudio » December 12th, 2018, 3:26 pm

Many years ago I created this tiny map of how Midtown LRT could approach the Blue Line with a flying junction and use the existing platform. https://www.google.com/maps/@44.9467079 ... W0SaIe_Ts8
The configuration of the Blue Line viaduct is suitable for this type of modification. A pocket track could be built between 32nd and 35th Streets to turn around Greenway trains if running in a service pattern where Lake St-Midtown Station is the terminus. This does preclude running east along Lake St or the Greenway, but it would allow interlining Midtown LRT from Lake to 46th or Ft. Snelling where it would turn east along Riverview.

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Re: Midtown Greenway

Postby DanPatchToget » December 12th, 2018, 4:02 pm

Since we're sharing ideas, my plan has been to build a wye track and a separate station as close as possible to Lake Street/Midtown and have a skyway connecting the two stations so transferring isn't a pain. All Midtown Greenway trains would turn into the wye, stop at the station, and then the driver would go to the other end of the train and turn out of the wye. This assumes a track would be trenched under Hiawatha Avenue so trains can continue east to where ever. Definitely not the most efficient operation, but there is consensus that the Midtown Greenway LRT should be more than just between West Lake and Lake Street/Midtown, even if it has to be built in phases.

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Re: Midtown Greenway

Postby HiawathaGuy » December 12th, 2018, 4:30 pm

See, this is my point... we need this to be a higher priority for the Met Council & Hennepin County - how do we help facilitate that? Is it waiting to see who the new Met Council Chair will be under Walz? Hortman has already said that transportation isn't a top priority as Speaker of the House. So how do we collectively get this more attention. I realize we all have ideas/suggestions/fantasies - but I'm wondering how we get real traction to get Midtown rail in the spotlight?

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Re: Midtown Greenway

Postby tmart » December 12th, 2018, 4:37 pm

mattaudio wrote:
December 12th, 2018, 1:52 pm
Yes, the major obstacles being:
1. How do you interface with the Blue Line and continue east of Hiawatha? The Greenway curves northeast at Cedar, crossing Hiawatha at 28th St, but hitting the Midtown-Lake Street station would be critical for transfers and for Midtown ridership.
2. East of Hiawatha, the Greenway runs at 27th St instead of 29th St, meaning it's 3x the walking distance to Lake Street destinations vs the Greenway west of Hiawatha.
Yeah, from a ridership/destinations perspective, IMO the best-case would be running along Lake east of Hiawatha. This also puts you on Marshall when you cross the river, which has much higher-value destinations (particularly St. Thomas) than the bit of St. Paul where the proposed Greenway crossing would dump you. Obviously the challenge here is that it would detract a ton of the value of the line to run at street-level for a good chunk of its length.
alexschief wrote: The process of Midtown rail to date hasn't been serious. The insistence on the mode being called a streetcar, despite the entire right-of-way being dedicated and thus not being an accurate label, speaks to a lack of good faith interest in the project as a transportation service. This, despite the population within a half mile of this four mile corridor being roughly equivalent to the populations along the Green and Blue line extensions. Some things that the original study traded away, like single-lining and not interlining at the ends are just obviously unacceptable.
I see it almost exactly the opposite: the studies have been pretty open about the fact that what they're proposing strongly resembles LRT and could even use LRT vehicles. Calling it a "streetcar" could be a sensible move to avoid riling up opposition early in the project's life. IIRC for whatever reason the Greenway boosters are supportive of "streetcar" and not supportive of "LRT"--plus "LRT" attracts a whole lot more negative political attention at the regional and state level, for whatever reason. I see Riverview more-or-less the same way. At the end of the day it doesn't have to be meaningfully different from LRT for the vast majority of its route, but the decisionmakers have cover to go back to constituents and say, "see, I talked them down from Big Scary LRT to a Nice Quaint Streetcar that matches your beloved Neighborhood Character."

With that said, I strongly hope things on the streetcars are engineered in a way that leaves open future improvements once the value is demonstrated, like double-tracking, longer trains, interlining with LRT, and converting the mixed-traffic portions to dedicated lanes. It will be a huge wasted opportunity, typical of our insular corridor mindset, if those flaws are built in permanently to the projects.
HiawathaGuy wrote:
December 12th, 2018, 4:30 pm
See, this is my point... we need this to be a higher priority for the Met Council & Hennepin County - how do we help facilitate that? Is it waiting to see who the new Met Council Chair will be under Walz? Hortman has already said that transportation isn't a top priority as Speaker of the House. So how do we collectively get this more attention. I realize we all have ideas/suggestions/fantasies - but I'm wondering how we get real traction to get Midtown rail in the spotlight?
Perhaps the most accessible people would be City officials, given that it's entirely within city limits. Even if funding or planning eventually has to go through a higher jurisdiction, it still seems sensible to have them as vocal advocates for the project. It might even be productive, given Frey's pretty vocal skepticism about the Nicollet Streetcar for which the city is already collecting funds, to suggest the city propose redirecting that streetcar money to the Midtown Streetcar instead. It may or may not require a tweak to state law to change the use of those funds, but the environment might finally be right for such a tweak anyway.

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Re: Midtown Greenway

Postby HiawathaGuy » December 12th, 2018, 5:17 pm

tmart wrote:
December 12th, 2018, 4:37 pm
Perhaps the most accessible people would be City officials, given that it's entirely within city limits. Even if funding or planning eventually has to go through a higher jurisdiction, it still seems sensible to have them as vocal advocates for the project. It might even be productive, given Frey's pretty vocal skepticism about the Nicollet Streetcar for which the city is already collecting funds, to suggest the city propose redirecting that streetcar money to the Midtown Streetcar instead. It may or may not require a tweak to state law to change the use of those funds, but the environment might finally be right for such a tweak anyway.
I'm pretty sure that's not how this works. Met Council has already done the dual study, and this is really already above the City level. Besides, the City cannot redistribute the streetcar funds to another area, per State law. There's so much about our City/County/Regional transit planning process that's awesome & so much that makes me frustrated. If this is going to connect with two LRT lines, Met Council has to be the agency leading the charge. Hennepin can certainly start, but this should ultimately be in their camp. This isn't a Minneapolis streetcar line, visa vie, Nicollet/Central - it's a grade-separated rail line connecting two major LRT lines. Also, in reviewing the Midtown Greenway Coalition's notes - they are the strongest advocates for single track trains without ballasts, which would ultimately prevent heavier LRT vehicles from using those tracks, I believe.

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Re: Midtown Greenway

Postby tmart » December 12th, 2018, 5:43 pm

I'm not saying the city can get it done on their own; I'm saying they can probably more effectively advocate for the project with the people who can. Why would the Met Council--who are constantly under siege from exurbanites angry about the fact that Minneapolis exists--push hard for a project that only serves Minneapolis, if Minneapolis doesn't seem to feel super strongly that it needs to happen?

I agree that state law might need to be changed to redistribute the streetcar funds; I just think that in a political environment where transit funding is ridiculously constrained and the City is saving funds for a project that probably isn't happening, someone should explore the possibility. An amendment to the streetcar district law adding the Greenway trench to the designated area seems far more plausible than...just about any other transit legislation we might ask the state legislature to pass.

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Tiller
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Re: Midtown Greenway

Postby Tiller » December 12th, 2018, 5:55 pm

Finding and lobbying Minneapolis city council members (and the mayor), and Hennepin County Commissioners is an actionable thing.

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Re: Midtown Greenway

Postby alexschief » December 13th, 2018, 2:38 pm

tmart wrote:
December 12th, 2018, 4:37 pm
alexschief wrote: The process of Midtown rail to date hasn't been serious. The insistence on the mode being called a streetcar, despite the entire right-of-way being dedicated and thus not being an accurate label, speaks to a lack of good faith interest in the project as a transportation service. This, despite the population within a half mile of this four mile corridor being roughly equivalent to the populations along the Green and Blue line extensions. Some things that the original study traded away, like single-lining and not interlining at the ends are just obviously unacceptable.
I see it almost exactly the opposite: the studies have been pretty open about the fact that what they're proposing strongly resembles LRT and could even use LRT vehicles. Calling it a "streetcar" could be a sensible move to avoid riling up opposition early in the project's life. IIRC for whatever reason the Greenway boosters are supportive of "streetcar" and not supportive of "LRT"--plus "LRT" attracts a whole lot more negative political attention at the regional and state level, for whatever reason. I see Riverview more-or-less the same way. At the end of the day it doesn't have to be meaningfully different from LRT for the vast majority of its route, but the decisionmakers have cover to go back to constituents and say, "see, I talked them down from Big Scary LRT to a Nice Quaint Streetcar that matches your beloved Neighborhood Character."

With that said, I strongly hope things on the streetcars are engineered in a way that leaves open future improvements once the value is demonstrated, like double-tracking, longer trains, interlining with LRT, and converting the mixed-traffic portions to dedicated lanes. It will be a huge wasted opportunity, typical of our insular corridor mindset, if those flaws are built in permanently to the projects.
I'd like to believe this, but there's no evidence for it. The Met Council is triumphantly moving forward on a LRT project right now that has faced substantial public controversy. There's nothing to be gained by obscuring from the public the nature of what is proposed, that's a strategy to get your project sued and canceled.

The term "streetcar" has real meaning (irrespective of whatever Siemens calls their LRVs in marketing materials), and the longer it gets carried forward and the further it gets cemented, the more compromised these projects are likely to get. The Midtown Transit study, for instance, proposed single tracking and no interlining at both ends—two concessions that would be seriously detrimental to the quality of transit service provided. It proposed small stations suitable only for one-car trains, and at least two more stops than necessary, further diminishing the "transit" aspects of this proposed transit investment. The Riverview Transit study meanwhile, proposes trains running in mixed traffic at precisely the location where there is the highest congestion within the corridor (while proposing a costly tunnel at a location with no congestion) and proposes close-together stations that are not conducive to good transit.

All of these things have already been done, but it makes sense for advocates to push against these choices that compromise the quality of transit and not be sanguine in the hopes that some of the bad decisions made so far are just smokescreens. It would be an embarrassing step backward if MSP were to add to METRO a string of obviously inferior services and try to sell them as the genuine article. These cities are not Cincinnati or Oklahoma City.

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Re: Midtown Greenway

Postby twincitizen » December 13th, 2018, 4:06 pm

The project needs a champion at the City, but more importantly it needs one on the County Board. This project probably won't happen without a County Commissioner actively pushing for it. The County holds the transit funding purse strings AND owns the Greenway ROW. With Southwest heading towards construction, will Marion Greene or Angela Conley turn their attention to making Midtown rail a reality?

"Midtown Rail" is a named project in Met Council's "increased revenue" scenario. It is not included in the "current revenue" plan (FWIW, the "current revenue" scenario does include the B, D, and E Lines, although those are not currently fully funded).

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Re: Midtown Greenway

Postby David Greene » December 13th, 2018, 4:09 pm

Tiller wrote:
December 12th, 2018, 5:55 pm
Finding and lobbying Minneapolis city council members (and the mayor), and Hennepin County Commissioners is an actionable thing.
Seriously, who wants to meet regularly, develop an action plan and execute it? There aren't many (any?) other organizations out there right now that will advocate for this, though if we get the ball rolling we can probably rope some in. The only way this is going to happen is if we organize and make it happen. The start of a legislative session with a friendly house provides an opportunity to open conversation.

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Re: Midtown Greenway

Postby Oreos&Milk » December 13th, 2018, 9:43 pm

Im OK with it being just one LRT car, and if parts are single track im OK with that as well. What I'm not OK with is extra stops. The line should only have the following stops, a Green line stop, E line stop, Orange line stop, D line stop, and a Blue line stop. let this be a fast track corridor that lets commuters transfer at fast speeds so they can have faster commute times up and down the other lines. The local community will be serviced by the B line rapid ( not nearly as rapid as this row train line could be!!!) bus along lake street.

Anything outside of this is a complete failure. Once they establish some type of line be it M Line or METRO Gray line, it will be easier to build upon it when the demand is already there, instead of just projecting it.

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Re: Midtown Corridor Rail & Lake Street aBRT (B Line)

Postby twincitizen » December 14th, 2018, 11:08 am

A few things folks.

1. this thread exists. Let's try to keep train talk here and not in the Midtown Greenway thread, which is primarily focused on the existing trail and potential extension over the river (Short Line Bridge) to St. Paul. I moved the last couple of pages of posts accordingly.

2. Metro Transit did an alternatives analysis back in 2013 and approved a "dual alternative" that includes aBRT on Lake Street and rail in the Greenway. There's a link in the original post of this thread. If you've never read any actual study materials, please do so here: https://www.metrotransit.org/midtown-corridor.

3. Can we please not rehash every unrealistic fantasy about extending this line this, that, and the other way? We have 5 years worth of that right here in this thread. Going forward, let's please try to keep the bulk of the conversation here about the actual planned (B Line) and proposed (Midtown rail between West Lake and Hiawatha) transit services.

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Re: Midtown Corridor Rail & Lake Street aBRT (B Line)

Postby mattaudio » December 14th, 2018, 11:16 am

It seems absolutely relevant to discuss how the rail should integrate at West Lake and Lake Street-Midtown stations for potential future expansion.


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