During the 30-day public comment period on the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FIES) for the Central Corridor Project, I sent Kathryn O’Brien, Environmental Services Manager for the Central Corridor Project, questions and concerns regarding the Project. I asked how comments I had submitted during earlier phases of the Project were categorized as “in favor” of the Project. I asked why copies of the FEIS were distributed to St. Paul Public Libraries in a format that was not viewable at the libraries. I requested information on the “10-12 hour technical analysis” that according the Central Corridor Project Manager Mark Fuhrman calculates the Cost-Effectiveness-Index (CEI) for the Project.
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I also persisted in questioning the credentials of Nancy Ronhovde, B.S. (Degree pending), the preparer of the environmental justice section of the Draft EIS.
With one exception, none of the public comment I sent to Ms. O’Brien was published in the public comment section of the FEIS. The one comment that was published suggested consideration of routing the Central Corridor LRT on the existing transitway.
In response, the FEIS states:
“This alignment was not studied during previous phases of Central Corridor LRT project development…due to increased travel time and isolation from populations likely to use the Central Corridor LRT.”
If the alternative was not studied, how could the analysis conclude that travel time would increase and potential ridership decline? How did the traffic engineers determine slower travel and fewer riders on a route that was never considered?
LRT on an exclusive transit right-of-way would move much faster than a 265,000 lb train in the middle of University Avenue. And LRT, along the existing rail route between Minneapolis and St. Paul, would have the potential to carry far more additional public transit riders than the proposed replacement of the Route 50 bus.
A fast train running a few blocks north of University Avenue, connecting ALL of the University of Minnesota Twin Cities campuses (including the one in St. Paul), the 2 downtowns, the Hamline-Como-Midway area and the State Capitol Complex, would serve many more passengers than the proposed slow, 11-mile, 45-minute route in the middle of the street.
At the center of the central corridor between Minneapolis and St. Paul, University Avenue runs in front of KSTP and an existing section of purchased and developed transit right-of-way runs behind KSTP. Currently, the existing transitway shuttles passengers between University of Minnesota parking lots. 3 million passengers a year currently ride the transitway shuttle buses. Imagine how many might use the route if it was extended beyond the bounds of U of M Parking.
Absurdity abounds, a myriad of problems persist, and public transit dollars continue to drain into the Met Council waste stream.