Get to one of These Meetings!!!!

January 17, 2012 at 2:21 pm Leave a comment


From the Sun Post;

A light rail or bus rapid transit line could link the northwest suburbs to the rest of the Twin Cities’ transit system by the end of 2018. The Hennepin County Regional Railroad Authority – which consists of the same members as the Hennepin County Board – and its partners will soon begin an in-depth study of several possible alignments for the Bottineau Transitway, and they are seeking public input.

The Bottineau Transitway is a proposed project that would begin in downtown Minneapolis and extend approximately 13 miles northwest through the suburbs of Golden Valley, Robbinsdale, Crystal, Brooklyn Park and Maple Grove. The county says the transit line is needed to connect the northwest suburbs to the rest of the metro, as well as to keep up with regional population increases and encourage economic growth.

“I think it’s important because I think transit is poor in the northern suburbs,” said Hennepin County Commissioner Mike Opat, a strong proponent of the project. Opat represents all or part of Brooklyn Center, Brooklyn Park, Crystal, Minneapolis, New Hope, Osseo and Robbinsdale. “The northern suburbs just need to be connected,” he said. A map of transit routes in the Twin Cities shows several planned or existing light rail or bus rapid transit options for travelers in the south metro, but only the Northstar commuter train serves the north metro, and it’s on the other side of the Mississippi.

And the Northstar Line has been a huge failure! It is 22% under the projected ridership!

County Commissioner Mark Stenglein – who represents all or part of Crystal, Golden Valley, Medicine Lake, Minneapolis, New Hope, Plymouth and St. Anthony – agrees that connecting the northwest suburbs to the rest of the area is vital. “It’s an incredible economic boost.” Stenglein said. He said that it will not only help bring people into Minneapolis but will also provide a frequent, time-efficient means for people to access jobs and points of interest in the suburbs.

In addition to connecting the northwest suburbs, the county hopes the Bottineau Transitway project will help ease increasing traffic congestion. “Our transportation system is on the edge of maximum capacity,” said Hennepin County engineering and transit planning manager Joseph Gladke. He said it doesn’t take much to overload the system and cause congestion.

The communities along the Bottineau Transitway are expected to grow by about 140,000 people by 2030, representing almost 60 percent of the projected population growth in Hennepin County. State- and regional-level studies have concluded that roadway expansion will not be able to keep pace with future growth of travel demand in the Twin Cities. The county says that makes it important to create more transit options.

The county is studying four possible routes for either light rail or bus rapid transit. Bus rapid transit would include a “dedicated guideway,” meaning it would have its own roadway to ensure efficient operation. The middle section of the project would run through the existing BNSF railroad corridor that runs west of Bottineau Boulevard (County Road 81). According to Gladke, the county considered alternatives along West Broadway Avenue, but using the railroad corridor will reduce the number of street crossings and increase the speed of the line so it can provide better service.

At the north and south ends of the corridor, the railroad authority is considering two options each. One northern option would end in Maple Grove at Hemlock Lane and Arbor Lakes Parkway, near the Shoppes at Arbor Lakes. This alignment would follow the future Arbor Lakes Parkway and Elm Creek Boulevard until it reached the BNSF corridor near 73rd Avenue and Bottineau Boulevard.

The other northern option would end at Target’s north campus, just north of Highway 610 in Brooklyn Park. It would follow West Broadway Avenue, running down the middle of the road south of 93rd Avenue and crossing Bottineau Boulevard at 73rd Avenue to connect with the BNSF corridor. Opat and Stenglein prefer this option. On the south, the project will end downtown Minneapolis, where it will connect with the Hiawatha line, but there are two ways it could get there.

One proposed southern route would keep the line in the BNSF railroad corridor through Golden Valley to Olson Memorial Highway (Highway 55) and then follow the highway into downtown. The other possible route would bypass Golden Valley, exiting the rail corridor near 34th Avenue and running down the middle of West Broadway Avenue past North Memorial Hospital. This route would then travel down Penn Avenue to Olson Memorial Highway.

According to Brent Rusco, the Bottineau Transitway project manager, the goal of each alignment is to take advantage of existing right of ways in order to minimize impacts on private property. But in some cases, such as with the Penn Avenue option, the plan could require the acquisition of some property.

Yes of course, what is government if they aren’t buying property and forcing business out of business and people out of their homes.

The Bottineau Transitway project has roots going back to 1988, when Hennepin County began conducting transportation and land use studies in conjunction with the Hennepin County Comprehensive Light Rail Transit System Plan. Now the project is going through an extensive analysis and planning process required by the Federal Transit Administration in order for the project to compete with other proposals nationwide for federal funding.

The federal government could fund up to 50 percent of the cost for constructing the line according to Gladke. Of the remaining 50 percent, Gladke said 30 percent would likely come from the Counties Transit Improvement Board, 10 percent from the Hennepin County Regional Railroad Authority and 10 percent from the state. For light rail the total project cost is expected to be in the neighborhood of a billion dollars.

It doesn’t matter who pays for it!  It is ALL OUR money!!!!

In March 2008 Hennepin County began the Alternatives Analysis phase of the project, which focuses on identifying feasible modes and alignments for further study. During the Alternatives Analysis phase, the county and its partners looked at a broad range of possibilities and narrowed them down. Commuter rail was eliminated from consideration early, because it works best over longer distances with stations farther apart.

According to Rusco, the analysis evaluated 21 alternatives using 31 criteria to narrow the options for more in-depth study. Throughout the process, work was reviewed by three committees that include policymakers, business stakeholders, technical experts and members of the public. Those committees will continue to be involved in the evaluation process.

In December the project entered the Scoping phase. “This is a key piece of the whole process,” Rusco said. “It will define what will go into detailed study in the Draft Environmental Impact Statement.” The Scoping process seeks public input in order to determine what to study further and to identify a “locally preferred alternative” route. Identifying this alternative is a required step in competing for federal funding. Based on information collected during the Scoping period, the railroad authority and participating cities will recommend a locally preferred alternative to the Metropolitan Council. The Scoping period ends Tuesday Feb. 17.

After identification of a locally preferred alternative, the county will begin creating the Environmental Impact Statement. The statement will provide in-depth analysis of the several alternatives – including the locally preferred alternative – and their anticipated impacts. The statement will study not only impacts on nature, but also on the surrounding community. It will also address concerns raised by the public during the Scoping phase.

“It is a rigorous, required process based on federal policy,” Rusco said. “It’s very comprehensive.” A draft Environmental Impact Statement is expected by the end of 2012. Then there will be a chance for public comment before the final statement. After that, Gladke said it will take a few years to complete the pre-engineering and final design before construction could begin. Of course, all this depends on whether the project gets the nod from the Federal Transit Authority at several steps along the way.

Gladke said an optimistic target for project completion is the end of 2018. The first step to getting involved is learning more about the proposed project. A good place to start is the Scoping Booklet, a 14-page document that gives an overview of the project and the process it must go through. It’s is available online at bottineautransitway.org, along with much more detailed information. The website includes an option to sign up for project updates.

This month there will also be four open houses where the public can learn more about the project and ask questions. The county is seeking the public’s comments on the purpose and need for the project, the alternatives proposed for study and project impacts or benefits that should be evaluated.

Rusco said the county wants to know, “Did we get it right?” Comments can be submitted in writing by mail, e-mail or fax and must be received Tuesday, Feb. 17. Submit comments to Brent Rusco, Bottineau Transitway Project Manager, Hennepin County, 701 Fourth Ave. S., Suite 400, Minneapolis, MN 55415. E-mail comments to brent.rusco@co.hennepin.mn.us or fax them to 612-348-9710.

Info: bottineautransitway.org

Scoping Open House 1

4:30-6:30 p.m. Monday, Jan. 23

Theodore Wirth Chalet, 1301 Theodore Wirth Parkway, Minneapolis

Scoping Open House 2

6-8p.m., Tuesday, Jan. 24

Brooklyn Park City Hall, 5200 85th Ave. N., Brooklyn Park.

Scoping Open House 3

5:30-7:30 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 25

Urban Research and Outreach/Engagement Center, 2001 Plymouth Ave. N., Minneapolis

Scoping Open House 4

6-8 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 31

Robbinsdale City Hall, 4100 Lakeview Ave. N., Robbinsdale

We need to get to these meetings and give our planners an earful, even though we know their minds are already made up.

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Entry filed under: Brooklyn Center, Brooklyn Park, County, Crystal, Golden Valley, Hennepin, Mayor, Met Council, New Hope, Osseo, Robbinsdale, Transportation.

Who Are These Groups Part 3; The Bottineau Boulevard Partnership Mold found at Pilgrim Lane Elementary!!!!!!

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