Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Minneapolis streetcar plan advances

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The Minneapolis City Council has given initial approval to a plan to redirect up to $60 million in property taxes to help fund a streetcar line along Nicollet and Central avenues in Minnesota's largest city.

Those taxes would be redirected from several major apartment projects already under way in and around downtown Minneapolis, local media noted. Minneapolis still needs to obtain additional funding from state, regional, or federal sources to pay for the rest of the $200 million project, which would establish a 3.2-mile first phase. .

Mayoral aide Peter Wagenius said Tuesday, June 18, 2013 that the city hopes the line will be operated by the Metropolitan Council, which would include incurring operations costs.

That plan runs counter to many streetcar projects getting under way in the U.S., where operational plans do not involve the existing area transportation agency, even where those agencies oversee rail or light rail services.

Utah Transit Authority is one exception to this trend, ready to add the Sugar House streetcar line to its overall light rail transit responsibilities. Portland, Ore.'s TriMet does not operate the Portland Streetcar, though it does cooperate and coordinate its LRT operations with the streetcar line.

The proposal still must receive final approval from the full Council, which is expected. In addition, the plan for a "value capture district" must be certified by Hennepin County.