Southwest LRT (Green Line Extension)

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Re: Southwest LRT (Green Line Extension)

Postby froggie » April 27th, 2015, 12:14 pm

Silophant wrote:Well, the elephant in the room with Riverview is that it requires a river crossing, and MnDOT is currently happily reconstructing the most obviously useful existing bridge without consideration for future LRT use.

As far as VacantLuxuries suggestion, can anyone remind me why that's apparently not being looked at?
Because anything beyond a standard bridge redecking on the Fort Rd Bridge would trigger a requirement for environmental studies, which would take 1-2 years and probably longer. Because that bridge is fracture-critical, under Chapter 152 MnDOT is required by the Legislature to perform bridge repairs/upgrades (in this case including a new bridge deck) in a timely manner (by 2018 IIRC).

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Re: Southwest LRT (Green Line Extension)

Postby stp1980 » April 27th, 2015, 12:35 pm

It's difficult to see how this will move forward. Politically, I think the cost is now beyond what would be acceptable and any friends of this project, especially the lukewarm ones, may melt away. The very Byzantine and lengthy review process is disincentive enough, it would be a huge loss for transit if this doesn't go forward, considering all the planning and sunk costs. I still think we should plan for a system. We can get allot of aBRTs and streetcar for $2B.

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Re: Southwest LRT (Green Line Extension)

Postby Mikey » April 27th, 2015, 12:37 pm

Tiller wrote:
mamundsen wrote:Can someone explain this line from the update:

"99 additional business relocations (from 47 to 146)"

We are relocating 150 businesses?!?!?!?!?
I second this. This is the first I've actually heard of business relocation happening. 150 is a pretty big number in this context. Is that mostly due to a few large office buildings or something?
I think the issue is where the line turns south in Hopkins - there are a lot of industrial warehouses & related businesses that seem to be in the way. Why they didn't plan on simply using 11th Ave...?
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VacantLuxuries
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Re: Southwest LRT (Green Line Extension)

Postby VacantLuxuries » April 27th, 2015, 1:09 pm

They would have to go to the Hopkins, Minnetonka, EP and every other council and say, "That LRT line you thought you'd get in 2021? It's probably not opening in your neck of the woods until maybe 2025, if ever.
If SWLRT was switched to a piecemeal project, as far as I'm aware, they wouldn't need to consent until their section of the line was next up. Which would also lead to more options in the future. Eden Prairie isn't playing ball in 2020? Great, we still have a functional train that services Uptown, who cares what Eden Prairie thinks? Eden Prairie in 2030 wants in? Great, let's draw up the plans and get it started.

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Re: Southwest LRT (Green Line Extension)

Postby acs » April 27th, 2015, 1:17 pm

You're forgetting that Hennepin county will be paying 10% of the cost, not the city of Minneapolis, and they will definitely be required to give municipal consent no matter how short the initial segment. Last time I checked, only two of the 7 commissioners would be from areas benefiting from a starter segment to West Lake. With the full build-out, it's 4/7.

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Re: Southwest LRT (Green Line Extension)

Postby VacantLuxuries » April 27th, 2015, 1:22 pm

I think that the other 5 commissioners would recognize that 10% of a $200-500 million project is a lot easier to swallow than 10% of a $2 billion dollar project, regardless if it went from Minneapolis to Uptown or Minneapolis to Albert Lea. And if the route didn't need to be dictated by federal guidelines, it could be built to actually serve the community properly instead of bending over backwards just to qualify.

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Re: Southwest LRT (Green Line Extension)

Postby Silophant » April 27th, 2015, 1:23 pm

So? The Blue Line passes through only two districts, and the Hennepin portion of the Green Line only one, and those got approved. Opat and Johnson will be happy to screw over Minneapolis, no doubt, but they're not insurmountable.

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Re: Southwest LRT (Green Line Extension)

Postby David Greene » April 27th, 2015, 1:26 pm

acs wrote:You guys do realize that changing the route or cutting stations will almost certainly require going through the municipal consent process again? That alone will probably delay it another construction season and delay the opening until 2021, which will also increase the cost.
Yep, fully aware of that. But inflation isn't going to be $400 million like this latest increase was. This project is going through municipal consent again no matter what, at least in the suburban communities. Whether that causes another year of delay, I don't know.

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Re: Southwest LRT (Green Line Extension)

Postby twincitizen » April 27th, 2015, 1:29 pm

Mikey wrote:
Tiller wrote:
mamundsen wrote:Can someone explain this line from the update:

"99 additional business relocations (from 47 to 146)"

We are relocating 150 businesses?!?!?!?!?
I second this. This is the first I've actually heard of business relocation happening. 150 is a pretty big number in this context. Is that mostly due to a few large office buildings or something?
I think the issue is where the line turns south in Hopkins - there are a lot of industrial warehouses & related businesses that seem to be in the way. Why they didn't plan on simply using 11th Ave...?
I started wondering the same today. I think we have to assume that it was looked at in one way or another and discarded for whatever reason.

By turning south at 11th, you could cut the planned Shady Oak Station entirely and have a shorter route to Opus. Problem is, certain parts of 11th Ave are very clearly not wide enough to support LRT down the middle. The properties that would be impacted are sorta medium density townhouses and apartment buildings with way too many driveways on 11th. While it may be physically simpler to build LRT down a street than a bridge over wetlands & polluted soil, it would seriously impact a lot of residential properties, including some acquisitions. In an ideal Robert Moses-y world, you could look at that and say "great, buy them out and we'll rebuild with even higher density, etc." but in reality it could add even more to project costs than the current alignment/acquisitions would. Additional problem is what to do once you get to 11th/Smetana...you still need to cross wetlands to get back on route to reach Opus. Potentially does avoid the lawsuit with that Claremont apartment building though by not cutting through "Opus Ridge" or whatever.

That said, an urban on-street station at 11th Ave / 7th Street in Hopkins looks WAAAAAY better than the planned Shady Oak Station.

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Re: Southwest LRT (Green Line Extension)

Postby David Greene » April 27th, 2015, 1:30 pm

acs wrote:[At the very least MNDOT attempts to find efficiency. There was no money to expand 494 from 394 to 55, but the department found savings of 5% last year so boom, we're getting a new freeway lane each way. MNDOT's goal is to make driving easier throughout the state, and when they apply their expertise and extensive staff to that goal they are very, very good at achieving their goal. Far better then the Met Council is or probably ever will be at providing good transit service.
*guffaw*

Anyway, Met Council's track record with transit is VERY good. Metro Transit is regarded as one of the most efficient operations in the country. They got Hiawatha and Central built. These massive projects do uncover surprises. It just happens that this one was a doozy. You want to talk about Mn/DOT efficiency? Then I want to talk about U.S. 53.

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Re: Southwest LRT (Green Line Extension)

Postby David Greene » April 27th, 2015, 1:34 pm

xandrex wrote:
David Greene wrote:If they can't get the cost down, I think we do need to reopen discussion of routing through Uptown somehow. That said, I'd only support it if there was a GUARANTEE of a connecting streetcar route through the current 3A.
As much as I'd love to see an Uptown routing, it doesn't seem like the Minneapolis portion is where the ballooned costs are located. Would a 3C (or, rather, a "not 3A") actually reduce cost? I suppose you wouldn't have the tunnel through Kenilworth. But what additional costs would we have to eat in 3C? A Nicollet tunnel?
Right, that's the question that needs answering. Would tunneling under Hennepin be easier than the Nicollet option? Would ridership been better than the Nicollet option? Going under Hennepin could maintain interlining if done right.

We're a LONG way away from a major change like this but if the cost doesn't come down dramatically, this line as it is now is done.

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Re: Southwest LRT (Green Line Extension)

Postby Mikey » April 27th, 2015, 1:49 pm

twincitizen wrote:
Mikey wrote: I think the issue is where the line turns south in Hopkins - there are a lot of industrial warehouses & related businesses that seem to be in the way. Why they didn't plan on simply using 11th Ave...?
I started wondering the same today. I think we have to assume that it was looked at in one way or another and discarded for whatever reason.

By turning south at 11th, you could cut the planned Shady Oak Station entirely and have a shorter route to Opus. Problem is, certain parts of 11th Ave are very clearly not wide enough to support LRT down the middle. The properties that would be impacted are sorta medium density townhouses and apartment buildings with way too many driveways on 11th. While it may be physically simpler to build LRT down a street than a bridge over wetlands & polluted soil, it would seriously impact a lot of residential properties, including some acquisitions. In an ideal Robert Moses-y world, you could look at that and say "great, buy them out and we'll rebuild with even higher density, etc." but in reality it could add even more to project costs than the current alignment/acquisitions would. Additional problem is what to do once you get to 11th/Smetana...you still need to cross wetlands to get back on route to reach Opus. Potentially does avoid the lawsuit with that Claremont apartment building though by not cutting through "Opus Ridge" or whatever.

That said, an urban on-street station at 11th Ave / 7th Street in Hopkins looks WAAAAAY better than the planned Shady Oak Station.
Yeah, my idea was to run along the east side of a two-lane 11th Ave w/ no parking - it avoids most of the driveways, and should only require taking lawns, not buildings. The rail bridge would probably need to be replaced either way.

As for south of Smetana, running alongside the existing ROW east to the west side of the apartment buildings seems to avoid a decent amount of wetland - not to mention getting closer to the section 8 housing at the SE corner of Smetana and Westbrooke
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Re: Southwest LRT (Green Line Extension)

Postby acs » April 27th, 2015, 2:08 pm

David Greene wrote:
xandrex wrote:
David Greene wrote:If they can't get the cost down, I think we do need to reopen discussion of routing through Uptown somehow. That said, I'd only support it if there was a GUARANTEE of a connecting streetcar route through the current 3A.
As much as I'd love to see an Uptown routing, it doesn't seem like the Minneapolis portion is where the ballooned costs are located. Would a 3C (or, rather, a "not 3A") actually reduce cost? I suppose you wouldn't have the tunnel through Kenilworth. But what additional costs would we have to eat in 3C? A Nicollet tunnel?
Right, that's the question that needs answering. Would tunneling under Hennepin be easier than the Nicollet option? Would ridership been better than the Nicollet option? Going under Hennepin could maintain interlining if done right.

We're a LONG way away from a major change like this but if the cost doesn't come down dramatically, this line as it is now is done.
I've thought about a Hennepin route myself. I haven't seen any project document yet that even studied it as a route. It is arguably even more dense than Nicollet, wouldn't overlap with the Orange line or Nicollet Streetcar corridors, wouldn't make a separate greenway LRT as redundant, and could serve the north side to some extent. However, it would still be just as costly of a tunnel as Nicollet with all the same unknown costs, plus the nearly insurmountable challenge of getting through the Virginia triangle.

The route into Minneapolis isn't the reason for the most recent increase anyways, it's the soil conditions and ROW along the rest of the line and 3A vs 3C vs Hennepin isn't going to change that. The only thing a more eastern route would solve is the Kenilworth tunnel problem, but honestly there's just no way a cut & cover tunnel down south Minneapolis streets is going to be less costly than that. Maybe the extra ridership is worth a $3 billion price tag, but I doubt most politicians and the FTA would agree.

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Re: Southwest LRT (Green Line Extension)

Postby David Greene » April 27th, 2015, 3:48 pm

acs wrote:I've thought about a Hennepin route myself. I haven't seen any project document yet that even studied it as a route.
It was studied back in the early '80's at least (there are Wedge articles about it) but obviously those studies are so dated they're worthless at this point.

Major reroutes means blowing up the project and starting over, so another decade at least of delay. Something like routing along 11th Ave. in Hopkins may be doable without completely starting over.

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Re: Southwest LRT (Green Line Extension)

Postby acs » April 27th, 2015, 4:27 pm

While this isn't officially dead yet, what will kill it finally is the NIMBY lawsuits from Kenilworth and Minnetonka. The supplemental DEIS which exposed these costs was only ordered as a result of the Kenilworth lawsuit appealing to the FTA. Now I'm not a lawyer, but the fact that the study concluded there would be additional costs and environmental impacts at least suggests the NIMBY's will win their lawsuit. If the Kenilworth NIMBY's win then the Minnetonka residents will win as both cases are asking for detailed environmental reviews of their area. That's two more required studies, 3 months each, with associated costs and mitigation adding to the overall budget, plus a new round of municipal consent adding at least a few months after that. Not gonna happen.

The worst part is the legal precedent this will set. You can bet there are groups in Brooklyn Park and Lake Elmo itching to sure the Met Council over Bottineu or Gateway, and now they know they can sue to get a detailed environmental review of each of their little pieces of the project. The damage done by the piss poor planning of this line won't be contained to this project.

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Re: Southwest LRT (Green Line Extension)

Postby EOst » April 27th, 2015, 4:42 pm

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Nick
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Re: Southwest LRT (Green Line Extension)

Postby Nick » April 27th, 2015, 4:50 pm

At what point is it serious? It's nice watching this unfold parallel with the transportation bill debates in the House and Senate.

Maybe some people on Twitter are being hysterical, but also this is an enormous debacle, and it is weird to me how some people (perhaps explicitly trying to even out the hysteria) just keep whistling and looking off into the distance.

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Re: Southwest LRT (Green Line Extension)

Postby acs » April 27th, 2015, 5:26 pm

Also, can I just say one more thing before I go? If you're Duinick and Dayton and you get this info Friday night, and you are presumably both good liberals who want to get more taxes for transit this year in a transportation package, and you have the option of letting people know about the SWLRT shitstorm in June, WHY THE HELL WOULD YOU DECIDE TO RELEASE THIS INFO NOW??! There's 3 weeks left in the session, are you purposely trying to kill support for your own party's initiatives?

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Re: Southwest LRT (Green Line Extension)

Postby Anondson » April 27th, 2015, 5:31 pm

I'm curious to see the revisions that have happened to designs that are making these costs rise over what was estimated. Even mapped out to see if they can be routed around with some sacrificing.

This quote stuck out for me:
When the Council began designing the Southwest LRT line in early 2013 following completion of the Draft Environmental Impact Statement, only 1 percent level of detail was available, which is standard at that point in the process. Once local and some state funds were committed to pay for engineering and environmental work, engineers conducted additional tests, which advanced the level of detail to 30 percent. This phase is when the greatest level of change occurs in a project due to underground testing results, which eliminates many engineering unknowns.
"...only 1% level of detail was available, ..." Why not give a cost estimate pessimistically as possible, or with as wide a range as possible?

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Re: Southwest LRT (Green Line Extension)

Postby EOst » April 27th, 2015, 6:21 pm

Nick wrote:At what point is it serious? It's nice watching this unfold parallel with the transportation bill debates in the House and Senate.

Maybe some people on Twitter are being hysterical, but also this is an enormous debacle, and it is weird to me how some people (perhaps explicitly trying to even out the hysteria) just keep whistling and looking off into the distance.
Well, what's the point, really? Obviously this won't happen if it's still $2 billion dollars in the future, but the operative word is "if." Pointing fingers and getting hysterical certainly doesn't solve anything, it just gives the opponents of transit further ammunition.

I mean, what's the deadline? The odds of any transportation package at all making it out of this legislative session are pretty slim; it's a hail-mary in the best case. That gives the Met Council plenty of time to investigate how many efficiencies can be created, what the effect of removing Mitchell would be, whether some of the challenges can be routed around, etc. If at the end of that, it still costs $2 billion, then yeah, it's Chicken Little time. But why now?

The fact that this debate has shifted so dramatically is a pretty good sign that dramatic shifts could still happen.


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