Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Minneapolis streetcar proposal mulled

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Minneapolis streetcar proposal mulled City of Minneapolis

Amidst ongoing light rail transit expansion plans in Minnesota's Twin Cities, Minneapolis also is advancing a prospective route of a different flavor: a 3.4-mile, $230 million initial streetcar line on Nicollet Avenue. In response, the Public Works, Energy and Environment Committee of Hennepin County's Board of Directors was scheduled to weigh a proposed resolution for the project Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014, ideally to provide a firm status update of the proposal.

Approval from Hennepin County would be "one of the procedural steps typically required by Met[ropolitan] Council for getting a project fully approved in the regional transportation policy plan," Minneapolis transportation planner Anna Flintoft said in an email, according to local media.

At present, Metropolitan Council's regional plan provides no overall approach for funding streetcars as a transport option. Earlier this year, however, Met Council did agree to study streetcars as a transport option and develop a policy approach for the rail mode.

Such a policy would also benefit neighboring St. Paul, the state capital, which also is pondering its own initial streetcar line.

Met Council's sluggishness over streetcars hasn't prevented the Minneapolis City Council from advancing the Nicollet Avenue streetcar line as a locally preferred alternative, which it did last October. The city currently is developing an environmental assessment of the project due to be completed early next year.

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