Planning for Minneapolis Midtown Transit Corridor gets underway

Residents of Minneapolis came together at the Whittier Park Recreation Center on January 29 for an open house on a proposed Metro Transit project connecting the Hiawatha and Southwest light rail lines, by using either light rail, streetcar, bus rapid transit, or a dedicated busway. Meeting facilitators emphasized that, “Everything is on the table currently.”

The project will provide faster east-west service for transit users, and increase accessibility to major employment and commercial centers in the area. Michael Mechtenberg, the project manager and a planner at Metro Transit, said transit investments would also “catalyze and support economic development,” as well as to “support a healthier community.” A general excitement about the project was unmistakable as a regular flow of attendees circulated amongst the poster boards and maps on display.

The Midtown Corridor Alternatives Analysis, officially launched in September 2012, will study the potential benefits, costs, and impacts of developing a transitway either on Lake Street or along the Midtown Greenway. During the Alternative Analysis phase of the project, Metro Transit along with project contractors will evaluate different routes and types of transit modes to determine what the best fit for the corridor is.

Once completed, the new transit corridor would provide expanded transit service between the Hiawatha Light Rail line and the Southwest Light Rail line, on which construction is slated to begin in 2015. Additionally, the transitway would connect with the existing Chicago-Lake and Uptown Transit Centers, as well as the proposed I-35 Bus Rapid Transit Orange Line.

Metro Transit sees this as an opportune moment to move forward on the project for several reasons. First, there is clear evidence of demand, as transit ridership in the area is already high: the Lake Street station on the Hiawatha line is the third busiest along the line and the number 21 bus route that runs on Lake Street has the second-highest number of riders in the state of Minnesota. With the alignment of the Southwest Light Rail line finalized, planners also now know where the western terminus of the Midtown Transitway would be.

The Federal Transit Administration committed $600,000 in 2012 towards the completion of the study, the first step in getting any major transit project off the ground. A planning framework is also already in place going into the project, as plans looking at the feasibility of putting a streetcar on the Midtown Greenway and bus rapid transit on Lake Street have been produced within the last five years.

The Midtown Corridor Alternatives Analysis project period is expected to extend into January 2014. Upcoming stages of the analysis will include developing a final list of alternative routes and modes, the evaluation those alternatives, and a final assessment, which will be in the form of what is known as a Locally Preferred Alternative. Between now and January of next year community members will have four more opportunities to weigh in on the project at different stages during the analysis. More information on the project and ways to get involved can be found on the Midtown Corridor Alternatives Analysis website:

Related story: New transit planning for Midtown Corridor

Reporting for this article supported in part by Bush Foundation.

POINT(114.177987 22.321702)
  • We're just idiots if we keep falling for the same things that didn't work before. How many jobs were created from the Hiawatha Light Rail Line? I'm not talking about jobs constructing the line but jobs that people had to get to. None I bet. And it's costing millions of dollars to subsidize the Hiawatha and more millions for the soon to come Central Corridor line. These projects are not built to help the people but they are for the special interest folks who make all the money building them and the peasants march into the well planned meetings thinking that something's going on to help them. Total b.s. Debt is incurred to build the lines and money has to be collected to subsidize the lines. For what? To get people from Burnsville to find parking on the street near the Hiawatha stations so they save a few bucks from parking downtown. The entire transportation discussions are a huge scam for special interest folks to make a lot of money. They're like the Bechtel, Halliburton, etc. contractors who make fortunes from wars. Our local yokels make their fortunes from exciting the peasants to think that a rail line connecting Hiawatha with an unneeded southwest corridor scam will mean something to them or their posterity. Totally sickening people with no leadership. Unless you call Mark Dayton a leader. Sheeeeesh! Leslie Davis for the People. P.S. How about getting the fluoride out of our water? - by Leslie Davis on Thu, 02/07/2013 - 12:18am
  • Leslie Davis, my partner has been taking the Hiawatha line to work for many years. And regularly runs into people he knows during commuting hours who are also on their way to work as well. - by Brian Finstad on Thu, 02/07/2013 - 12:31pm
  • Good points all. Thanks for the concise reporting. - by Steve Bachler on Tue, 02/05/2013 - 1:02pm

Our primary commenting system uses Facebook logins. If you wish to comment without having a Facebook account, please create an account on this site and log in first. If you are already a registered user, just scroll up to the log in box in the right hand column and log in.

Matthew Bachler's picture
Matthew Bachler