Outreach Underway in the Riverview Corridor

Outreach Underway in the Riverview Corridor

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By Andrea Kiepe, Organizer

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This summer, TLC kicked off new work in the Riverview Corridor. We’re reaching out to engage local residents and our existing supporters about the potential to improve transit between downtown Saint Paul, the MSP airport, and Mall of America.

As the planning process moves forward, we are working to ensure that as many community members as possible in the Riverview Corridor have a chance to help guide decisions about new transit routes and types of service, how to thoughtfully integrate safe routes for biking and walking, and how to ensure the impact on surrounding neighborhoods is a positive one.

One of the highlights of the summer has been working with Ramla Warsame and Jordyn Mitchell, our local interns from the City of Saint Paul’s Right Track program. The two young women both live in the corridor and attended local schools. They spent the summer helping with outreach to residents, while also learning about how advocacy nonprofits work, how to plan events, and how to mobilize grassroots supporters.

Riverview Meetups

We started out by talking about Riverview with our own members and those who follow TLC on social media.

In July and August, we focused specifically on Riverview at two informal meetup events. We held them at Buca di Beppo in Highland Park and at Bad Weather Brewing on West 7th. We provided some snacks and had an open discussion at the events, partly to see what people already knew and what questions they had, as well as to get a sense of what people thought about the route overall.

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We held straw polls at each about which type of transit people preferred. Light rail and streetcar edged out the bus and diesel options, though each meetup had slightly different ratios of support.

Discussion ranged freely, with the Highland group, which was smaller and more conversational, mostly debating the merits of various routes and modes. The West 7th crowd had a higher proportion of people who were concerned about specific routes or side effects from construction. Both groups were generally supportive, but at Bad Weather some attendees felt they had unresolved questions. Everyone agreed that the range of options on routes, modes, pinch points, and river crossings made the entire decision-making process very complex.

National Night Out

On August 4, we had a whirlwind evening visiting as many National Night Out block party locations as possible in the Riverview Corridor. We grabbed clipboards with information on the related transit study and started talking to people. We also used surveys to help gauge how much people knew about possible routes, how they already use transportation in the corridor, and what they’d like to see in the future. The surveys were not designed for a rigorous scientific result, just to help us get the conversation going and get a sense of the general mood toward enhancing transit in the corridor.

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Even in areas with lots of transit riders, we were a little surprised to hear how many people were not yet aware that significant improvements are being considered. Still, the vast majority of respondents were either fully supportive of transit improvements or supportive with reservations. Only a few people were steadfastly opposed to changes in the corridor.

Many of the neighbors we talked to who already use transit were excited about potential improvements, and said that more frequent service and better reliability would make a big difference for them. We also heard a lot of support for one of TLC’s top priorities: building out the regional transit system as a whole.

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Looking Ahead

The study process around the potential new service is in very early stages, so local residents still have a chance to shape where the line runs and what type of transit is selected. With robust public participation, this can be a fantastic opportunity to make transportation improvements in Saint Paul that will make a difference in thousands of lives.

As we shift into fall, TLC will continue engaging community members, holding more meetings to discuss options and door-knocking in the corridor. Maybe we’ll see you soon!

To support this outreach, make a donation today.

 To get involved, contact organizer Andrea Kiepe at andreak@tlcminnesota.org or 651-789-1406.

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