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This last weekend the Green Line (Central Corridor) started rolling for its inaugural trip along the 11 miles connected downtown St. Paul and Minneapolis, to the so-called “Target Central” station, where most of the rail systems serving the Cities and the region hereabouts will ultimately converge and become the Metro region’s transit hub and even an entertainment venue (presumably to keep. Keeping our focus on the LRT and other transit equity issues seems apropos in returning to this topic this week.
A whole hell of a lot of angst emerged from the disruptions for small business outlets along University Ave, especially, in St. Paul, most of them owned and operated by entrepreneurs of color.
Equity issues can still be found in most aspects of the design and construction of the Green Line well beyond the impacts on business. New lines are planned to cut through sensitive neighborhoods, but not necessarily ready to serve the equity needs for the new parts of North Minneapolis and the entire Southwest Corridor stretching to Eden Prairie. Some of the issues rearing their heads again, many new ones have highlighted the uniqueness of each project – how does the Northwest-bound Bottineau Light Rail Transitway (Blue Line extension) actually serve the nerve center of the North Side’s African-American community. The natural corridor, Broadway Ave, weaves through already distressed neighborhoods, too narrow without the capacity to carry a standard light rail system. Smaller-gauge rails – like those of streetcars – would fit. Is that a solution to fair and equitable access to transit for Northsiders. Riders there could connect to the Bottineau via streetcar. But what other issues confront these folks?
Then, not far from the Bottineau, the Southwest Light Rail system (Green Line) planned through the near-North Harrison neighborhood before swinging Southwest through five cities – Minneapolis, St. Louis Park, Hopkins, Minnetonka and Eden Prairie. The battle lines here have been complicated by the role older freight rails and the alignment through the Cedar Lake complex of lakes, bike and hiking trails.
Southwest will be covered as the Metropolitan Council, the Minneapolis City Council and the City of St. Louis Park where well-heeled West Minneapolitans and St. Louis Parkers are demanding their amenities of one sort or another be preserved as they see it. Some of the issues have been partially resolved, but where does the equity play out in this scenario selecting the routes for those segments of the SWLRT.
This time out, we’ll explore the equity issues for the two lines on the west of the city and its suburban sisters and North Side under serious debate and organizing around them along their respective corridors.
TTT’s ANDY DRISCOLL and SIOBHAN KIERANS talk with the active organizers directing their efforts to ensure equity and neighborhood concerns are addressed.
RUSS ADAMS – Executive Director, Alliance for Metropolitan Stability
KENNEDY WILLIS – Executive Director, Harrison Neighborhood Association, Mpls.
MICHAEL MCDOWELL – Transit Organizer, NOC (Neighborhoods Organizing for Change)
AASIM SHABAZZ – Co-Chair, Blue Line (Bottineau Transitway) Coalition (North Side)