Bottineau LRT (Blue Line Extension)

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Viktor Vaughn
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Re: Bottineau Corridor (Blue Line Extension)

Postby Viktor Vaughn » April 8th, 2014, 1:27 pm

mattaudio wrote:Is it moving existing transit users more effectively? I'd like that to be the primary metric for expensive capital investment. Put it where buses no longer suffice in terms of capacity or level of service.
Exactly. Which overloaded bus routes are we upgrading to rail with the SW and Bottineau projects?

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Re: Bottineau Corridor (Blue Line Extension)

Postby lordmoke » April 8th, 2014, 1:29 pm

This isn't directed at any particular person, but you guys should really stop with the "cornfields" line. Brooklyn Park is the sixth most populous city in the state, and one of the last stops on this is going to serve a community college with well over 10,000 students. The last proposed stop on this route, yes, is currently empty space, but reducing the entirety of the suburban portion of this route to "cornfields" is pretty bad form.

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Re: Bottineau Corridor (Blue Line Extension)

Postby mattaudio » April 8th, 2014, 1:32 pm

I wasn't the last one to use it, but I've used that line before. Because three of the proposed Bottineau stations ARE literally adjacent to corn fields today.

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Re: Bottineau Corridor (Blue Line Extension)

Postby David Greene » April 8th, 2014, 1:33 pm

Viktor Vaughn wrote:
mattaudio wrote:Is it moving existing transit users more effectively? I'd like that to be the primary metric for expensive capital investment. Put it where buses no longer suffice in terms of capacity or level of service.
Exactly. Which overloaded bus routes are we upgrading to rail with the SW and Bottineau projects?
Our transit planning should not be limited to the existing uses of our current woefully inadequate transit system. To do so would be to simply reinforce the disparities that already exists.

Equity means that we take a step back and consider what works for everyone and what gets people where they need to go, whether those places are currently served by transit or not.

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Re: Bottineau Corridor (Blue Line Extension)

Postby mattaudio » April 8th, 2014, 1:46 pm

Pretty sure building rail lines that don't actually address inequality (no matter how much the apologists claim, it still isn't true) actually makes things worse... That's CTIB money we can't use to actually help people who use existing bus routes such as the overcrowded routes between Downtown and the North Side. It's interesting that the people who claim projects will resolve disparities are actually projecting a reality that will reinforce and exacerbate those disparities. It's sad to see.

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Re: Bottineau Corridor (Blue Line Extension)

Postby Viktor Vaughn » April 8th, 2014, 1:47 pm

David Greene wrote:
Viktor Vaughn wrote:
mattaudio wrote:Is it moving existing transit users more effectively? I'd like that to be the primary metric for expensive capital investment. Put it where buses no longer suffice in terms of capacity or level of service.
Exactly. Which overloaded bus routes are we upgrading to rail with the SW and Bottineau projects?
Our transit planning should not be limited to the existing uses of our current woefully inadequate transit system. To do so would be to simply reinforce the disparities that already exists.

Equity means that we take a step back and consider what works for everyone and what gets people where they need to go, whether those places are currently served by transit or not.
Of course I'm not saying expanded transit should be limited to serving existing users. Only that high capacity transit like rail lines should generally upgrade service that's currently overloaded. Central LRT replacing the 50 is a perfect example.

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Re: Bottineau Corridor (Blue Line Extension)

Postby Viktor Vaughn » April 8th, 2014, 2:15 pm

lordmoke wrote:This isn't directed at any particular person, but you guys should really stop with the "cornfields" line. Brooklyn Park is the sixth most populous city in the state, and one of the last stops on this is going to serve a community college with well over 10,000 students. The last proposed stop on this route, yes, is currently empty space, but reducing the entirety of the suburban portion of this route to "cornfields" is pretty bad form.
Yeah, I thought it was hyperbole until I looked at the streetviews of the stations yesterday. There are literally cornfields adjacent to stations.

Even the stations in Crystal are pretty bad. The right-of-way was already huge between the freight rail, Highway 81, and the service road. Now they're in the process of widening it further (they expanded the service road into my Grandma's front yard flower beds). The stop just south of 94/694 feels isolated and is not at all walkable. The stop at Bass Lake Road will make the stations along Hiawatha seem pedestrian friendly.

Robbinsdale (like Hopkins on the SW) is a redeeming stop for this line. These old railroad towns have the density and land use perfect for a metro station. It would serve North Memorial much better if it ran up West Broadway, though.

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Re: Bottineau Corridor (Blue Line Extension)

Postby RailBaronYarr » April 8th, 2014, 3:07 pm

Regarding costs and city budget, I'd just like to briefly point out that Minneapolis was able to scrape together $165m+ in bonding capacity to help build a stadium and associated parking ramp and connecting skyways. Hennepin County was able to pass a sales tax addition to fund yet another stadium with $350m. We have the political will and bonding capacity (apparently) to fund major capital projects, and Minneapolis is spending more on streetcar line(s). What I'm getting at is that making worthwhile, if expensive, transit investments via the city ponying up more money is certainly possible if we focus our efforts on true public infrastructure and not subsidizing mostly-private organizations...

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Re: Bottineau Corridor (Blue Line Extension)

Postby David Greene » April 8th, 2014, 3:17 pm

RailBaronYarr wrote:Regarding costs and city budget, I'd just like to briefly point out that Minneapolis was able to scrape together $165m+ in bonding capacity to help build a stadium and associated parking ramp and connecting skyways. Hennepin County was able to pass a sales tax addition to fund yet another stadium with $350m. We have the political will and bonding capacity (apparently) to fund major capital projects, and Minneapolis is spending more on streetcar line(s). What I'm getting at is that making worthwhile, if expensive, transit investments via the city ponying up more money is certainly possible if we focus our efforts on true public infrastructure and not subsidizing mostly-private organizations...
That's a fair point.

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Re: Bottineau Corridor (Blue Line Extension)

Postby alleycat » April 8th, 2014, 11:09 pm

The DEIS is available for download.

http://bottineautransitway.org/2012_deis_documents.htm
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Re: Bottineau Corridor (Blue Line Extension)

Postby David Greene » April 9th, 2014, 9:00 pm

Viktor Vaughn wrote:
lordmoke wrote:This isn't directed at any particular person, but you guys should really stop with the "cornfields" line. Brooklyn Park is the sixth most populous city in the state, and one of the last stops on this is going to serve a community college with well over 10,000 students. The last proposed stop on this route, yes, is currently empty space, but reducing the entirety of the suburban portion of this route to "cornfields" is pretty bad form.
Yeah, I thought it was hyperbole until I looked at the streetviews of the stations yesterday. There are literally cornfields adjacent to stations.
Five years ago, the Uptown transit station was two blocks from a cornfield.

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Re: Bottineau Corridor (Blue Line Extension)

Postby David Greene » April 9th, 2014, 9:15 pm

Viktor Vaughn wrote:Robbinsdale (like Hopkins on the SW) is a redeeming stop for this line. These old railroad towns have the density and land use perfect for a metro station. It would serve North Memorial much better if it ran up West Broadway, though.
Totally agree with this.

Perhaps we're thinking about this line too narrowly. Remember that it is an extension of the Blue Line. I would expect some residents in North to get to jobs out at the Target campus, in Robbinsdale, Crystal, etc. but my guess is the real value will be the direct connection to the 494 strip. MoA is already a huge jobs destination for lower income families and this line would extend that access further in to the parts of the city that need it the most. Access to Hennepin Technical College is also a big deal.

It's instructive to look at the station areas in the Harrison neighborhood. Between SWLRT and Bottineau, almost all of the neighborhood is covered by station areas. That's an amazing transformation for a historically isolated neighborhood to one of the best-connected in the city. That benefit extends directly to a good portion of the Near North community.

As for Brooklyn Park, my good friend and colleague Joy Marsh Stephens is running for mayor and I know that when she wins, she will do everything she can to maximize this line to benefit the city, especially where environmental justice communities are concerned. She'll need a lot of help to get that done but she's the right person at the right time to create a new vision for the city and implement it.

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Re: Bottineau Corridor (Blue Line Extension)

Postby woofner » April 10th, 2014, 11:07 am

David Greene wrote: I would expect some residents in North to get to jobs out at the Target campus, in Robbinsdale, Crystal, etc. but my guess is the real value will be the direct connection to the 494 strip. MoA is already a huge jobs destination for lower income families and this line would extend that access further in to the parts of the city that need it the most.
It's hard to imagine many people taking the Blue Line over the Orange Line to get from the Northside to the Bloomington Strip. The Blue Line is 40 min end-to-end, which only beats the 535+540 by 5 minutes. Once the Orange Line improvements are in, it'll probably beat the Blue Line to the Mall, and of course will be more convenient to the rest of the strip.

The north surburban destinations (some of which are of course theoretical) will be more accessible through BLRT, but not as accessible as they would be on a BBRT line, which could branch out to multiple destinations on the north end. BRT could also easily fit onto Broadway, making it an actual transit spine for the Northside, not a transit, um, earlobe? like the Olson alignment will be. Of course SRF had to put their fingers on the scale to make BRT seem uncompetitive with LRT in the corridor, and even with that the LPA mode had to be a political decision (sorry, don't mean to hurt your feelings MNdible by criticizing those hard-working highway engineering consultants at SRF).
David Greene wrote:Five years ago, the Uptown transit station was two blocks from a cornfield.
I just want to quote this to underline its insanity.
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Re: Bottineau Corridor (Blue Line Extension)

Postby David Greene » April 10th, 2014, 11:14 am

woofner wrote:
David Greene wrote: I would expect some residents in North to get to jobs out at the Target campus, in Robbinsdale, Crystal, etc. but my guess is the real value will be the direct connection to the 494 strip. MoA is already a huge jobs destination for lower income families and this line would extend that access further in to the parts of the city that need it the most.
It's hard to imagine many people taking the Blue Line over the Orange Line to get from the Northside to the Bloomington Strip. The Blue Line is 40 min end-to-end, which only beats the 535+540 by 5 minutes. Once the Orange Line improvements are in, it'll probably beat the Blue Line to the Mall, and of course will be more convenient to the rest of the strip.
That could be true. I honestly don't know enough about the usage patterns to draw any firm conclusions.
woofner wrote:The north surburban destinations (some of which are of course theoretical) will be more accessible through BLRT, but not as accessible as they would be on a BBRT line, which could branch out to multiple destinations on the north end.
We can just as easily have bus lines on the northern edge to shuttle people to places. Splitting a line, in my experience, leads to confusion and poor service frequency along the whole route.
woofner wrote:BRT could also easily fit onto Broadway, making it an actual transit spine for the Northside, not a transit, um, earlobe? like the Olson alignment will be. Of course SRF had to put their fingers on the scale to make BRT seem uncompetitive with LRT in the corridor, and even with that the LPA mode had to be a political decision (sorry, don't mean to hurt your feelings MNdible by criticizing those hard-working highway engineering consultants at SRF).
Oh, LRT was definitely a political decisions but I don't think it's necessarily the wrong one. As we know, "BRT" tends to come out as the most watered-down version possible. LRT could also fit on Broadway so I don't find than a strong argument for BRT either.
woofner wrote:
David Greene wrote:Five years ago, the Uptown transit station was two blocks from a cornfield.
I just want to quote this to underline its insanity.
Yet strangely enough, it's true. It was right where the Flux dog park is now. I walked by it every day.

In case it's not clear, yes, I am being silly, but also making a point. Brooklyn Park won't be cornfields forever, especially with LRT there.

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Re: Bottineau Corridor (Blue Line Extension)

Postby woofner » April 10th, 2014, 11:55 am

David Greene wrote: We can just as easily have bus lines on the northern edge to shuttle people to places. Splitting a line, in my experience, leads to confusion and poor service frequency along the whole route.
There is a concept called open BRT, where the BRT is actually the facility, not the route. So you have, say, three routes that use a separated facility and then branch off outside the facility. It actually works really well from a service perspective because you build the BRT facility in the place that justifies higher frequency and gets it with the combined frequency of the three routes, and the northern areas that don't justify higher frequency get a service level that more matches their demand. I agree that it can be more confusing, but the key is that the majority of riders are traveling within the BRT corridor, which is likely the case on Broadway/Bottineau. Not to mention that connecting shuttles aren't without a degree of confusion themselves. And building LRT on just one of the potential branches has the significant downside of spending bucks on a much higher level of service than that branch deserves.
David Greene wrote:LRT could also fit on Broadway so I don't find than a strong argument for BRT either.
No, it couldn't. The curves are too zig-zaggy and the 80' segment is too narrow.
David Greene wrote:Five years ago, the Uptown transit station was two blocks from a cornfield... Yet strangely enough, it's true. It was right where the Flux dog park is now. I walked by it every day.

In case it's not clear, yes, I am being silly, but also making a point. Brooklyn Park won't be cornfields forever, especially with LRT there.
Yes, but five years before that there was a factory there, so it's not exactly the same situation. But I want to seize on your last point. If we can bring dense development to Brooklyn Park's cornfields with a wave of the LRT wand, isn't there a better magic hat to point the wand at? What's the regional benefit to bringing dense development to this distant area as opposed to a decaying inner suburb (like the other Brooklyn)?
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Re: Bottineau Corridor (Blue Line Extension)

Postby mattaudio » April 10th, 2014, 12:07 pm

But dontcha know it's much more profitable to develop exurban greenfields? Then you can work up some constituencies to promote a developer handout with the veneer of "helping disadvantaged communities" without actually helping disadvantaged communities. Sure, rail to Brookdale would revitalize an existing decayed area and serve one of the highest-use transit nodes in the metro, but developers just can't make enough money on it!

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Re: Bottineau Corridor (Blue Line Extension)

Postby David Greene » April 10th, 2014, 12:10 pm

woofner wrote:There is a concept called open BRT, where the BRT is actually the facility, not the route. So you have, say, three routes that use a separated facility and then branch off outside the facility.
I guess I'm not understanding the concept. For someone along the main trunk, is there just one route, with a transfer required to one of the branches or do all three "branches" run along the same trunk? If the latter, I don't see how there is any better frequency for someone traveling from the trunk to one of the branches.
woofner wrote:
David Greene wrote:LRT could also fit on Broadway so I don't find than a strong argument for BRT either.
No, it couldn't. The curves are too zig-zaggy and the 80' segment is too narrow.
There is a lot of surface parking that could be used to widen the ROW. A few buildings would have to be taken but I'm guessing not as many as one might think. A few years ago a county engineer told me it was possible, though rejected due to travel time concerns.
woofner wrote:
David Greene wrote:Five years ago, the Uptown transit station was two blocks from a cornfield... Yet strangely enough, it's true. It was right where the Flux dog park is now. I walked by it every day.
Yes, but five years before that there was a factory there, so it's not exactly the same situation. But I want to seize on your last point. If we can bring dense development to Brooklyn Park's cornfields with a wave of the LRT wand, isn't there a better magic hat to point the wand at? What's the regional benefit to bringing dense development to this distant area as opposed to a decaying inner suburb (like the other Brooklyn)?
The cornfield was next to the factory. Both existed at the same time. I don't know if the cornfield was always an undeveloped lot or if a house or something got torn down in the distant past.

But anyway, of course that's not the point. Brooklyn Park isn't exactly gangbusters wealthy. There is a lot of money there in places, but a lot of poverty too. It is *far* more racially diverse than Minneapolis.

I don't think we're favoring development in one area over another. I think it's pretty reasonable to assume Brooklyn Park is going to develop and that developing more densely around LRT is better than continued sprawl.

All this said, I would agree that given what I know, Bottineau is less of an opportunity booster than Southwest but people in North Minneapolis are still excited about it. On the other hand, I haven't tracked Bottineau anywhere near as closely as I've tracked Southwest so there's a lot I don't understand about the project. There may be lots of opportunity opened up by it that I'm just not aware of.

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Re: Bottineau Corridor (Blue Line Extension)

Postby mattaudio » April 10th, 2014, 12:13 pm

There are poor neighborhoods in St. Cloud... maybe we should extend Bottineau up there. And just think of all the development opportunities at stations where cornfields can become TOD.

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Re: Bottineau Corridor (Blue Line Extension)

Postby FISHMANPET » April 10th, 2014, 12:31 pm

David Greene wrote:
woofner wrote:There is a concept called open BRT, where the BRT is actually the facility, not the route. So you have, say, three routes that use a separated facility and then branch off outside the facility.
I guess I'm not understanding the concept. For someone along the main trunk, is there just one route, with a transfer required to one of the branches or do all three "branches" run along the same trunk? If the latter, I don't see how there is any better frequency for someone traveling from the trunk to one of the branches.
It's similiar to how a route like the 6 branches (actually it's exactly the same). In the trunk area all buses serve all stops. Once they get to then end of the trunk they branch out. So if you're origin and destination are both on the trunk, you can take any bus and you'll get there. If you're origin is in the trunk and your destination is outside the trunk, you'll need to take the right branch. And if you're origin is outside the trunk and your destination is inside the trunk, then you'll get on the single bus that serves your branch and get off at the trunk.

Let's say you have 3 branches you want to serve with a single trunk. Each spine gets 15 minute service. But if you space it, the trunk gets 5 minute service, it's just that only every third bus will serve a specific branch.

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Re: Bottineau Corridor (Blue Line Extension)

Postby woofner » April 11th, 2014, 11:22 am

David Greene wrote:There is a lot of surface parking that could be used to widen the ROW. A few buildings would have to be taken but I'm guessing not as many as one might think. A few years ago a county engineer told me it was possible, though rejected due to travel time concerns.
Well I agree, although we're already in dreaming mode there, so why not dream big and below-ground at that point? Plus an SRF consultant (you know, the ones who actually worked on the engineering) told me that the geometry of the curve is a problem for LRT. Whereas BRT is actually within the realm of reality and would accomplish all the goals of LRT but also provide much better access to the Northside.
David Greene wrote:I don't think we're favoring development in one area over another. I think it's pretty reasonable to assume Brooklyn Park is going to develop and that developing more densely around LRT is better than continued sprawl.
Actually yes, that's literally what we're doing when we say that LRT will drive development. There is zero evidence that LRT "creates" development that wouldn't have otherwise occurred. There is tons of evidence that LRT lures development that might have otherwise occurred far away from the line. So when you say, "presto, pretzels, mug of beer, I decree LRT goes here" you also say "shazbutt, shasta, rumplemints, here's a spot for stick-built apartments".

I agree that it's reasonable to assume that Brooklyn Park will continue to develop, but we need to think about whether it makes sense for that development to be the very high density development we need to see along LRT lines, or whether it can just be the reasonable low-density (10 du/ac minimum) development that's appropriate for urban areas. When making that decision, we need to remember that our LRT wand has only so much magic juice to squirt around, so it may be prudent to spray it where we need the very high density stuff.
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