Three years ago we developed a sweeping vision for reshaping transportation called Access Minneapolis.
The first steps in that plan will take place in the next couple of months and they will have a major impact on how we get around, but we can’t stop here because we still have a long way to go – and fast – to get ourselves out of growing gridlock in the region. The major imrpovements you are about to see will change the way buses get through downtown Minneapolis, how cars and bikes move around town, and how all kinds of trasportation moves along 35W and the Crosstown.
*Marq2, the conversion of Marquette and Second avenues downtown into transist corridors, will be done in early December. This will add a second bus lane in each direction – along with wider sidewalks and more pedestrian amenities – making it possible to have many more buses, moving much faster on these streets during rush house. This, in turn, makes it possible to take many of the buses off Nicollet Mall, leaving only hybrid buses, taxis and bikes on Nicollet Mall. At the same time Hennepin and First Av. N will be turned into two-ways with more innovations for bikes, like special lanes and “green boxes” so bikes can more easily be seen by cars.
*Along 35W, high-occupancy toll lanes, called “hot lanes”, will be open from Lakeville all the way into downtown, making it possible for those who car pool to get to work faster. With fewer people driving, that means less congestion for everyone. Also sharing those lanes will be high speed, high class buses, which will use those new lanes on Marq2 so they will not only get to downtown faster, but also get through faster. The first real bus rapid transit station will be added at 46th Street – something we insisted on as part of the upgrade of the Crosstown. (For someone living in the King Field, or Field Regina Northrup neighborhood, this should make it possible to walk/bike to the station and get downtown in just a few minutes.)
*In a month the first Northstar rail car will pull into downtown next to the new Twins ballpark…connecting to the extension of the Hiwatha LRT.
*In the Spring 1,000 bikes will be put on the streets of Minneapolis, stationed at rental kiosks throughout downtown, Uptown and the U of MN. They will make it possible to have fewer car trips in that area, and, instead, have people hope on a bike and speed through traffic. (Car drivers will have to do their part to watch out for, and give right of way to, bikers.)
This is all progress but it is only a start. We still have a long way to go. Top priorities for me include: building the Central Corridor light-rail through the U and to St. Paul; developing routes for the proposed light-rail line to the western suburbs (we have to find a way to serve Uptown); and another LRT line to the northern suburbs. We also have to turn those improvements along 35W into true bus rapid transit…meaning more stops along the way. And after having fought hard to get transit capacity onto the new 35W bridge, I believe we need a vision for that transit right now.
It took a huge coalition to get us here but we can’t stop because this is the time to reshape a transportation vision for the region that has been way to slow to move.
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