Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Minneapolis eyes two streetcar projects

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The Minneapolis City Council's Transportation and Public Works Committee Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2013, approved plans for two streetcar projects in Minnesota's largest city.

Approval was given for an environmental review and "pre-project development activities" on a proposed $200 million, 3.4-mile Nicollet Avenue streetcar line. The alternatives analysis for this project is nearly complete, and the City Council last June approval streetcars as its preferred modal choice. 

More surprising to some was agreement to advance an environmental assessment of a second streetcar line along West Broadway in North Minneapolis. The West Broadway line would fill in a gap not covered by current light rail transit (LRT) expansion in the Twin Cities.

The recommendations come as neighbor and rival St. Paul also explores a streetcar line to supplment the Green Line Light Rail Transit Line opening next year, linking the capital city to Minneapolis. St. Paul is evaluating seven potential routes.

The study for the West Broadway Line would be completed by next fall. City Council staff anticipate the line's construction would be funded by Minneapolis, Hennepin County, and the Metropolitan Council, which has yet to sign off on the proposal. Unlike many U.S. municipalities, both Minneapolis and St. Paul anticipate financial and operations involvement from Met Council, which oversees the area's LRT network.

Streetcars last plied Minneapolis streets in June, 1954.

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