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31 transit oriented development Articles | Page: | Show All

U.S. News and World Report: Twin Cites ranked fifth for public transportation

When it comes to public transportation, the Twin Cities are working hard to improve options, according to U.S. News and World Report.

In its recently compiled list of top ten U.S. cities for public transportation, the Twin Cities came in fifth place, after Boston and ahead of San Francisco. Portland topped the list.  

The Twin Cities made the list in part for its work on the Central Corridor Light Rail line that will link Minneapolis and St. Paul. It'll build on the already-existing Hiawatha Light Rail line that brings people between downtown Minneapolis and the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. Also noteworthy is its Northstar Commuter Rail that runs between downtown Minneapolis and the northwestern suburbs.  

Last year ridership increased 2.3 percent. 

Feds give St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman reason to hope for Central Corridor support

St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman was encouraged about plans moving forward for the Central Corridor Light Rail line after he attended the Jan. 19-21 U.S. Conference of Mayors in Washington, D.C., a Pioneer Press story notes.

Although there have been recent proposals to cut federal funding for mass transit initiatives, some high-level government officials at the conference showed strong support for the light rail line that would connect Minneapolis and St. Paul, according to the article.

Peter Rogoff, an administrator with the Federal Transit Administration,which would cover half of the $957 million construction costs for the light rail line, indicated to Coleman that he "intends for Central Corridor to be the first project --the first--he submits to Congress for funding," Coleman is quoted saying, adding, "The FTA is very supportive of this project. This is why I'm so optimistic."

Target Field in Minneapolis has had a �transformative effect�

The Winter 2010 issue of Next American City magazine says that downtown Minneapolis's Target Field has had a "transformative effect" on its surroundings.

With a record-setting 3 million-plus attendees in the first year, "the park is perhaps the first example of a publicly financed sports stadium done right," even beyond sports, it states.

Target Field, it boasts, is the country's second LEED-certified major league ballpark, with numerous green features, plus easy access to light rail, buses, the popular Nice Ride bike-sharing program, and other transit-oriented developments. The stadium has brought a neighborhood feel to an otherwise business-y district, it goes on.

The story quotes Andrew Dahl who works for the city's economic development office. Noting a dramatic increase in the use of public transportation, biking, and walking, along with more foot traffic to nearby restaurants and bars plus the emergence of pedicabs and street food vendors, Dahl states, "I think when we look back 10 or 20 years from now at what Minneapolis has become, this stadium will really be the definitive turning point."

Twin Cities awarded $16 million to support transit-oriented affordable housing and small business

Late last month, Minneapolis and St. Paul received a $16 million grant from the Living Cities Integration Initiative, a New York-based philanthropic organization, to boost affordable housing and small business, particular around transit areas, the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal reports.  

The mayors from both cities traveled to Detroit on Oct. 27 to accept the grant. According to the Business Journal, the money will flow especially to areas along the planned Central Corridor Light Rail Transit Line.

The grant will help create or preserve between 400 and 600 affordable housing units while an estimated 100 businesses will receive support for everything from marketing to fa�ade improvements, including loans to offset hardships imposed by transit construction, the article states. 

New regional road plan starves sprawl

The Metropolitan Council is reining in its plans for building roads to far-flung suburban developments, favoring instead more central highway lanes dedicated to transit and toll payers, according to the Star Tribune:

"A sudden change in Twin Cities highway planning could mean the end of the road for some suburban projects.

"Commuters and suburban elected officials are fuming over the decision by planners to back away from the age-old compact in which the state tries to keep pace with suburban expansion.

"Planners are instead embracing the idea of blanketing the inner metro area with a network of so-called "managed lanes"--what critics have long dubbed 'Lexus lanes'--for buses and drivers who are willing to pay extra to skirt stalled traffic. Officials outside the Interstate 694-494 beltway say they see their hopes for new roads vanishing as a result, despite forecasts for major population growth. ...

"The clash features some unexpected opponents: On one side are state officials working for a Republican governor, along with transit advocates, environmentalists and much of the business community. On the other are many Republican-voting suburbs."

Read the full article here.

Transit funders get dividend from better-than-expected ridership, costs

Five counties that fund two major new Twin Cities transit lines will see refunds on their investment due to better-than-expected ridership and lower-than-expected costs, reports the St. Paul Pioneer Press:

"The Hiawatha light-rail and Northstar commuter-rail lines last year cost less to operate and generated more fare-box revenue than expected, allowing the Metropolitan Council to return $1.2 million to the five counties that pay for half the lines' operating costs.

"'It's a refund,' Met Council Chairman Peter Bell said.

"In 2008, the five metro counties agreed to form the Counties Transit Improvement Board and levy a quarter-cent sales tax to fund rail, bus and other transit options. The group, composed of Anoka, Dakota, Hennepin, Ramsey, and Washington counties, estimates the tax will generate $85 million to $90 million per year."

Read the full article here.

Money for stalled St. Paul Greenway may go to other bike improvements

A recent court ruling favoring the Canadian Pacific Railway ended St. Paul's dream of building an extension of the successful Midtown Greenway bicycle-pedestrian route. But advocates tell the Twin Cities Daily Planet that the federal funds that would have gone to that project will likely be used to beef up the local bicycle infrastructure elsewhere:

"In August of last year, the city tried to use eminent domain to gain the right of way--but Judge Franks' June 17 decision shot down the attempt.

"The city could pursue other legal avenues, but it's not likely to do that, [Ward 4 Council Member Russ] Stark said. A second ruling in favor of the railroad could set an unhappy precedent for other municipalities pursuing similar 'rails-to-trails' projects. That's not a risk, Stark said, that St. Paul wants to take.

"Now the city has to forfeit millions of dollars in federal transportation funds, making the total amount of money awarded to and lost by the project nearly $7.5 million.  But on a brighter note, Stark added, the returned money will likely be funneled into other regional biking or walking infrastructure projects."

Read the full article here.

Twin Cities and Seattle lead nation in battling commutes with alternatives

With the recent addition of dedicated express-bus lanes on formerly choked freeways, the Twin Cities have joined Seattle as one of the two leading cities offering innovative alternatives to time-wasting freeway commuting, according to USA Today:

"Getting people...to choose public transit, carpools, biking, telecommuting or other alternatives to driving to work solo is a major part of a campaign to relieve congestion on I-35W and other roads here. The state is spending $500 million, including $133 million in federal money granted to cities running innovative projects, on a broad effort to ease logjams on I-35W....

"The congestion-easing efforts have helped make the Twin Cities, along with Seattle, a national leader among cities working to keep traffic moving, says Tim Lomax, a congestion specialist at the Texas Transportation Institute at Texas A&M University....

"'Those two are at the forefront of what's going on,' says Lomax, co-author of the annual Urban Mobility Report, which ranks congestion trends in 90 cities. 'The things that stand out in my mind are the use of information, very detailed information that drives their decisions about day-to-day operations and long-term projects. They are not only thought leaders but action leaders.'"

Read the full article here.

More Twin Citians living downtown with kids

Downtown Minneapolis is seeing more resident families with children, reports the Star Tribune. They lobbied for a new playground that will be built along the Mississippi riverfront. It seems to signal a generational shift in attitudes about work, home and family:

"Many millennials and younger Gen-Xers say their American dream is not a big house and yard in the suburbs. It's walking to work, no lawn mowing, more family play time and culture at their doorsteps.

"'I'm seeing a changing of the guard from baby boom empty nesters looking for a retirement place to young couples and families,' said Cynthia Froid, a real estate agent who has even included a crib in one of her for-sale units. 'People want to live closer to where they're working and being entertained. You just want a little bit more of a village and not have to get in your car for everything.'"

Read the full article here.

Pelosi pronounces Union Depot 'the future'

Speaker of the U.S. House Nancy Pelosi paid a visit to St. Paul's Union Depot, soon to be revived as a regional transit hub with $85 million in federal funds towards the $240 million project. She saw the future of transportation in the old building, according to the Star Tribune:

"Once the center of railroad activity in St. Paul, the mostly dormant building is expected to be on one end of a high-speed rail line that would link Chicago and the Twin Cities. It will also be home to the planned light-rail line between Minneapolis and St. Paul. The $237 million renovation project is slated to begin this fall and be completed in late 2012.

"The federal government has allocated about $85 million for the effort, $35 million of which came from the stimulus bill. Ramsey County has proffered about $42 million, and planners still need to fill a funding gap of about $100 million.

"'This is the future,' Pelosi told a crowd of reporters and local officials. 'And I think that this is a lot of money, but a small price to pay for taking this region into the future.'"

Read the full article here.

Housing trends indicate "suburban century is over," says expert

A new ideal of urban loft-living is overtaking the decades-old dream of a house in the suburbs, according to a housing expert who addressed a gathering of local developers in Minneapolis last week. MinnPost reports that Urban Land Institute researcher John McIlwain sees a strong future for cities that can supply environmentally sustainable housing:

"McIlwain, a senior fellow at the Urban Land Institute in Washington, D.C., and author of a research paper titled 'Housing in America: The Next Decade,' predicted that many central cities will experience strong demand for housing, with the strongest markets 'in places that provide a vibrant 24/7 lifestyle.' He also said that shortly after the end of the decade, virtually all new homes will produce most if not all of the energy they use, and the 'net-zero-energy' home will be the standard."

"As sprawling suburban development comes to an end, home ownership will decline to more historical levels and rental market will grow. People seeking an urban lifestyle but not in a 'big city' will look to live in suburban town centers that have emerged around the country."

Read the rest of the article here.

Sign-height squabble raises Central Corridor passions

Visions of the Central Corridor between Minneapolis and St. Paul as a transit-focused business district are clashing with an unnamed big-box home-improvement retailer's desire to have a sign high above I-94, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports:

"[Shopping center representative Paula] Maccabee said the retailer needs a sign 60 feet high so it's easily seen from I-94. That's only a foot higher than a Target sign just down the street, but that shouldn't mean anything, opponents say. Nor, they said, should Maccabee's argument that the store will employ residents, offer an alternative to the city's only other large home-improvement store--nearby Menards--or increase the tax base.

"'There are conditions that have to be met to grant a variance, and providing jobs is not one of them,' city council President Kathy Lantry said."

Read the entire article here.

Fort Snelling's Upper Post being readied for big things

Fort Snelling has been in the news recently for demonstrations calling attention to the history of ill treatment of Native Americans at the site. But behind the scenes, redevelopment of a less-known part of the fort complex is beginning after long years of neglect. The Star Tribune reports that the buildings at the Upper Post are being prepped for new life as residences, offices and possibly a hotel.

"The handsome yellow-brick buildings are still boarded up, the overgrown fields creased by the wind like some verdant sea of grass.

"But after years of much talk and hand-wringing, the pieces are falling into place to remake Fort Snelling's Upper Post --cousin to the historic fort that attracts thousands annually--and the nearby light-rail station area into a mixed-use, self-sustaining development that also respects its storied past.

"The result would be a unique village atop the river bluffs, next to the airport, that would include offices, shops, museums, even housing and a hotel. Between old and new structures, up to 4 million square feet might be available for development--about the size of the Mall of America."

Read the full story here.

Met Council approves third LRT line, along 14-mile Southwest Corridor

The Twin Cities will eventually have three light-rail transit routes, if the $957 billion Southwest Corridor project that the Metropolitan Council endorsed last week gets built. Finance & Commerce reports that the council opted for LRT to carry passengers between Eden Prairie and downtown Minneapolis via a 14-mile route known as the Kenilworth-Opus-Golden Triangle alignment.

"Met Council officials said they'll submit a New Starts application to the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) this summer for the Southwest Corridor and hope to get permission to enter the 'preliminary engineering' stage by the end of the year.

"'World class cities have growing, vibrant transit systems," said Peter Bell, chair of the Met Council. "The selection of the mode and alignment for this corridor is an important step forward. It moves the project to the next level and continues the process of building out the region's rail corridor network.'

"The proposed path of the train would run through Minnetonka, Hopkins, and St. Louis Park on its way between downtown Minneapolis and Eden Prairie. It would link up with the Central Corridor and the region's first light rail route, Hiawatha, at the new Target Field Station. It would also connect there with the recently opened Northstar commuter rail line that goes northwest to Big Lake."

Read the full story here

The Hiawatha Line is helping low-wage workers get to work

A University of Minnesota study has shown that the Twin Cities' light-rail Hiawatha Line has significantly improved the lot of low-wage workers by making jobs more accessible. The study found that the number of low-wage jobs accessible by 30 minutes of transit travel in the morning rush hours has increased by 50 percent in light-rail station areas of the city, and by 25 percent in zones that connect to the stations via bus lines. Read the full story here.

Source: University of Minnesota News Office

31 transit oriented development Articles | Page: | Show All
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