City Council advances 35W & Lake Transit/Access Project
Mayor R.T. Rybak and the City Council have approved the 35W & Lake Transit/Access Project plan that’s significantly pared down from the original project. The revised proposal is an official step forward to bringing uninterrupted Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) service from Lakeville to downtown Minneapolis.
First proposed in the 1990s, the project grew by 2004 to include costly freeway expansion along I-35W from 42nd Street to Interstate 94, at a cost approaching $500 million. As then proposed, the project did not include a new transit station at Lake Street, which is essential for uninterrupted BRT service between downtown Minneapolis and southern suburbs.
In 2007, the Mayor and City Council approved an action to ask staff come up with a fiscally responsible plan that would include the Lake Street transit station as the highest priority, as well as a high-quality connection to the Midtown Greenway and improved freeway access at Lake Street. The City of Minneapolis and its partners – Hennepin County as project lead, the Minnesota Department of Transportation, and Metropolitan Council – worked together to plan and design the project elements. The result is a $114 million proposal that includes:
A high-quality, inside-lane, multi-modal bus rapid transit station at Lake Street. This will make it possible to have bus rapid transit service to downtown Minneapolis from as far south as Lakeville.
A high quality bike and pedestrian connection to the Midtown Greenway. This would link this bus transit hub to one of the city’s busiest bikeways.
Freeway improvements between 28th Street and 31st Street. The improvements would be made to accommodate the successful regional operation of bus rapid transit.
A new exit from southbound I-35W to Lake Street. Currently, southbound I-35W traffic cannot exit onto Lake Street.
A new exit from northbound I-35W to 28th Street. The exit would help decrease congestion at Lake Street. People who work and visit Wells Fargo, Allina offices and adjacent hospitals north of Lake Street could use this off-ramp instead.
The City and its partners will now move to fine-tune design on the project elements. After that, there will be discussions with the Federal Highway Administration regarding the list of project elements so environmental documentation can be completed and funding can be sought.
Published Sep. 26, 2012