Tuesday, November 19, 2013

St. Paul ponders streetcar line

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St. Paul’s extensive streetcar system was dismantled in 1953. St. Paul’s extensive streetcar system was dismantled in 1953.

Minnesota's state capital is considering a 4.1-mile streetcar line, anticipated to cost $246 million, even as the city readies for the opening next year of its first light rail transit (LRT) route, the Green Line (Central Corridor).

City planners are recommending a route along Seventh Street, from Arcade Street east of downtown to Randolph Avenue west of downtown. Planners have yet to choose any route through downtown St. Paul itself. Funding has not been identified.

Long-Term Network Map WebsiteCity Planner Michelle Beaulieu told local media a study of seven streetcar lines in or near St. Paul's downtown showed that $134 million in increased property values along the route could be captured if the area were redeveloped for higher-density and mixed uses.

A recommendation is tentatively scheduled for review by the St. Paul Planning Commission in January, which would include a public hearing. The City Council could consider it shortly after that.

St. Paul's "twin," Minneapolis, last June approved a plan to commit local funds to its own proposed streetcar line, to be integrated with light rail transit network soon to connect both cities with the opening of the Green Line, which connects with the existing Hiawatha Line in Minneapolis.

Minneapolis secured permission from the state legislature earlier in the year to redirect property taxes from buildings adjacent to the proposed route to help fund the project.

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