A Streetcar Named Disaster

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ST. PAUL, Minn. – With the Metropolitan Council still attempting to cobble together the billions necessary for the Southwest Light Rail Transit project, the city of St. Paul may soon seek to install a streetcar running from downtown to the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.

The Policy Advisory Committee voted on Thursday to approve a recommendation from the Technical Advisory Committee for the $1.2 billion project, reports the Pioneer Press.

This street car would be the third leg of a triangle connecting the downtowns of Minneapolis and St. Paul and the airport. Currently, Metro Transit’s Blue Line connects downtown Minneapolis with the airport and the Mall of America, while the Green Line connects the two downtowns. The Riverview Corridor that the committees oversee is enclosed by the Mississippi River on the south, Interstate 35E and Ford Parkway on the north, Lowertown and Union Depot on the east, and Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport and Mall of America on the west.

The proposal was not without opposition however, as Daniel Kueny, a member of the Riverview Corridor’s Technical Advisory Committee, wrote a 33-page response in which he noted a series of objections to the findings of the consultants who wrote the study, reports the Pioneer Press.

Kueny called the streetcar “an expensive, unnecessary, and divisive project that has the very real potential to decimate a corridor of small locally owned businesses, pedestrians, and bicyclists” according to the Pioneer Press. He champions a $75 million bus option instead.

While it is through this hurdle, the streetcar is far from having the final go ahead. The Policy Advisory Committee will make its final decision on December 14. After that, the committee’s recommendation goes on to seek the approval of the Metropolitan Airports Commission, the city councils of St. Paul and Bloomington, and the Hennepin and Ramsey County boards of commissioners.

A public hearing will be held on the street car on November 9 at 5 p.m. at the Highland Park High School.

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