As reported by the Camden News last summer, the Penn Avenue Community Works Project has a collaborative team comprised of Hennepin County, City of Minneapolis, and Metro Transit employees. The project’s purpose is to enhance the economic, livability and mobility along Penn Avenue which will ultimately improve the quality of life for Northsiders. The team’s first project effort is to make transportation for Northside residents both affordable and accessible by implementing Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) that will extend from the Brooklyn Center Transit Center to downtown Minneapolis—which will conveniently connect passengers to the light rails. The Green Light Rail runs between the downtowns of Minneapolis and St. Paul, and the Blue Light Rail proceeds to the Mall of America in Bloomington. Connecting the BRT with the light rails will affordably align North Minneapolis residents directly to prime shopping and major Twin Cities’ attractions.
Whether passengers are stopping at Victory 44 for lunch, going grocery shopping at Aldi’s or catching a movie at the Mall of America, the BRT, or C Line as it will be called, will get them speedily to their destination—it will run 24 percent faster than local bus service and arrive at bus stops every 10 minutes. Each designated stop will have brightly lit stations where passengers can conveniently purchase their bus tickets from a machine before boarding. For comfort and safety, the stations will be equipped with amenities such as security cameras, emergency telephones, maps and route schedules. But what is most significant for all Minnesotans to appreciate, each station will be adequately heated to shield customers from the nippy winter chill.
Construction of the $32 million C Line will begin in 2016 and will join two other arterial rapid transit systems that will operate in St. Paul. The West 7th Street B Line opens for passengers in 2016 and the Snelling/Ford A Line is slated to premier in 2017. But these first three lines are just the beginning because arterial rapid transit system is the future, and luckily for us, North Minneapolis was chosen to be on the cutting edge of this exciting new transit experience. Connecting Northside residents quickly to shopping, schools, churches and libraries will be an investment well spent.
The C Line is not the only plan for Penn Avenue. To make it easier for pedestrians to access bus stations and businesses, the street will narrow and have amazing lighting features adorning both sides of the street like a string of fine pearls. Bike lanes and alternate parking are also being considered.
For residents who are interested in the project and want to get involved, it’s not too late to get on board. Kelsey Dawson Walton, Penn Avenue Community Works leader, said more open house meetings will be scheduled in January. This is a unique opportunity for residents to share their thoughts and visions with the project team because residents are the ones who know their community better than anyone else. And they are the ones who will reap the benefits.
Visit the Penn Avenue Community Works Project website, hennepin.us/penn, for dates and locations of the January meetings.