By Andrea Kiepe, Community Organizer
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The Twin Cities has a plan for transit system expansion that already is making a difference. The Blue and Green Lines, the new A Line, and better bicycling and walking connections are connecting people to jobs and education in sustainable, affordable, healthy ways. For example, the Green Line and connecting bus service brought 2000 more jobs within a 30 minute commute, according to a study from the Accessibility Observatory at the University of Minnesota.
Given this success, many residents, businesses, and organizations want to see the transit system build-out go faster. We share that urgency! In the coming months, we’ll be out in the community talking about one of the possible new projects—the Riverview Corridor, which runs from downtown Saint Paul to the airport and Mall of America.
The Riverview transit corridor is reaching key milestones in 2016-2017. The community will be asked to provide feedback about where the line should go, what places it should reach, and what kind of transit mode it will use.According to the Riverview Corridor website: “The Minnesota Design Center and Boothe Transit Consulting are working with the project staff to better describe and visualize the transit options for the Riverview Corridor. As the combinations of transit route and mode begin to take shape, more information will be provided with interested citizens through public meetings and presentations, and through the Policy Advisory Committee meetings.”
As the process moves forward, TLC is working to ensure that as many community members as possible have a chance to help guide decisions. This summer I’ll be joined by our two Right Track interns, Jordyn Mitchell and Ramla Warsamee, who both live in Saint Paul’s Highland neighborhood, part of the Riverview corridor study area.Together, we’ll be reaching out to our members, residents, business people, and community organizations along the route.
We hope to use our background advocating for better transit, bicycling, and pedestrian options to discuss these issues and help ensure individuals and local business owners are well informed about the experiences of other communities and other corridors. As cities across the country are turning toward options that make it easier for people to drive less, emphasizing walkability and “livable communities,” we are learning more and more about the best approaches.
This corridor can be a fantastic opportunity to make infrastructure improvements in Saint Paul that will help improve the transportation network in the Twin Cities as a whole.
As a Pioneer Press editorial said, “The 12-mile corridor has been a key transportation route since Minnesota’s territorial days.” Today, it could be the third leg of a high-quality, high-frequency transit triangle forming the core of the Twin Cities’ transit network: the Blue Line connects downtown Minneapolis and the airport, and the Green Line links downtown St. Paul and Minneapolis, while right now the Riverview offers only Metro Transit bus service.
If we want to tackle the chronic inequities in the region, we need to ensure that people all over the metro area have the transportation options that enable them to access education, jobs and services, regardless of whether they have a car.
We also have an opportunity to make a difference in the health of our communities. For the first time since 1979, cars, trucks, and airplanes emit more global warming pollution than power plants. One big way to lower these carbon emissions is to make it safe and convenient for people to choose other ways of getting around. Transportation investments—expanded transit service, bicycling and walking infrastructure—take some time to put in place, but once they are available, the shift in travel patterns can have long term positive results. Having the ability to use options other than driving not only lowers pollution and emissions but also increases health, physical activity, and community connectivity.
We want to make sure that transit improvements in the Riverview Corridor help these larger issues, while making sure that they fit with local community needs.
We’ll be getting in touch with our members, attending public meetings in the corridor, and we’ll host some of our own to have conversations with people new to the issue. Contact me (651-789-1406, andreak[at]tlcminnesota.org) if you’re interested in being involved or have ideas for events we could attend or host.