The train that was a bus

Saint Paul’s Green Line-the Central Corridor. It cruises down University Avenue at a remarkable 45 MPH at its fastest speed. It has got the speed of a llama and the heart of a lion! – well, maybe it has the heart. By comparison, the speed of the Blue Line that runs between Downtown Minneapolis and the Mall of America is 55 mph in many spots along Hiawatha Avenue and 60 mph through the airport tunnel. You can get from Target Field to MOA and vice versa in less than 30 minutes. You’re lucky to make the trip in 55 minutes between Target Field and Downtown Saint Paul, even though the actual distance of the Green Line is about two miles less than the total distance of the Blue Line. That’s OK, though. There’s plenty of places to park your car along the Green Line, right? Continue Reading


Benches, tables and chairs for a more walkable and welcoming Saint Paul

As I’ve worked on walkability surveys of routes to Green Line stations over the last few years, one of the issues consistently raised by community members is the need for more benches at bus stops and along major arterials, to provide places to rest, especially for seniors and people who use canes or walkers, and parents with young children. Continue Reading


Green Line getting up to speed in fits and starts

Heading east from Minneapolis, the Westgate Station is the first Green Line port of call in Saint Paul. Trains stop in the shadow of the KSTP radio mast, out front of an apartment building with a ground floor Dunn Brothers Coffee, Metro PCS, and Snap Fitness. Continue Reading


Unique art on the Green Line LRT platforms

I was always fascinated by a 2011 WCCO article regarding Art Along the Light Rail (Blue Line). I took an #mspwalkin St. Paul the other day, although it was raining so it wound up being a couple hours of getting lost in the skyway. Nonetheless, I took the newer Green Line to the Union Depot and back, and saw some really nice art at various LRT platforms. Continue Reading


Improving LRT signal timing in Downtown Minneapolis

Although St. Paul’s traffic signals deserve most of the blame for slowing the Green Line, there’s room for improvement in Minneapolis as well. To be fair, Minneapolis deserves praise for its signal timing through the University of Minnesota campus, where trains are seldom delayed. They’ve also established a very good progression for westbound trains from the city limits to the Prospect Park Station, including the right turn from University Avenue onto 29th Avenue SE. Continue Reading

(Photo by Bruce Johansen)

Report calls for more public space along Green Line

The opening of the Green Line light rail has environmental advocates and others evaluating the University of Minnesota’s amount of green space.A report released last week says the University and surrounding neighborhoods should make way for more public spaces, as an influx of residents is expected in the area along the light rail in the next decade.The report, released by the Minnesota chapter of the Trust for Public Land, says additional households near the Green Line, which cuts through the heart of campus, could contribute to the overcrowding of public spaces, including those on and around the University.Despite the report’s findings, University officials say they’re not concerned about adding more public spaces.Pamela Wheelock, vice president of University Services, said the University considers green space a priority, but she said the school isn’t planning on converting any of its land into public parks right now.The report estimates that as many as 1,600 new households will pop up in the University’s area within the next 10 years.The University and its surrounding area have a high amount of public space, according to the report. About 11 percent of the area is already available for the public, and that number is the highest of any area along the Green Line, the report says.Wheelock said there are already many public places on campus for people to enjoy. Specifically, she mentioned Northrop Mall and the Gateway Plaza near the McNamara Alumni Center.“I can guarantee you that it’s not just the campus community, but [also] members of the public, [who] enjoy those spaces,” Wheelock said.Tim Busse, communications director for University Services, said there is green space around the Green Line on campus, including trees and other landscaping amenities along Washington Avenue Southeast.Although the report says the expected population increase could put stress on public land resources, it also outlines a variety of paths the University could take to achieve a greener, more publicly accessible environment.One option is to begin “stacking” green infrastructure onto existing structures, the report said.The University could achieve that by creating parks and green spaces under bridges, power lines or other unconventional, publicly owned land, said Jenna Fletcher, program director of Trust for Public Land.Though the trust advocates for a variety of public land uses such as parks and other amenities, Fletcher said there isn’t enough public land when considering the amount of green space that’s needed for a high quality of life in the Twin Cities.Parks won’t be enough to alleviate the coming stress on public places, she said, adding that it will be important to make some privately held land available for use. Continue Reading


Touring Green Line green infrastructure

This past Saturday I participated in a tour of Green Line “Green Infrastructure” as part of Public Art Saint Paul’s City Art Collaboratory Program. We are a group of multidisciplinary artists and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) professionals who embark on monthly field trips together, exploring the living systems of the City of Saint Paul. One of our cohort is Matt Kumka, a landscape architect at Barr Engineering. He and his coworker, green engineer Nathan Campeau, guided us on this three-stop tour looking primarily at the stormwater management features. Continue Reading