BusinessGreen Space & The River

Understanding purpose and need

By James Schoettler, member of Citizen Advocates for Regional Transit (CART)
The City of Sauk Centre, pop. 4,500, has a four-lane superhighway.  Sauk Centre does not need a superhighway; yet no one questions the presence of Interstate 94.  That’s because most everyone realizes it is an essential backbone highway for the northern states, part of the federal Interstate Highway System; the purpose is to get people from places east of Sauk Centre to places west and vice versa, and they need to do it fast, efficiently and safely.  
Similarly, the Riverview Corridor does not need a “transit superhighway”, Light Rail Transit (LRT).  But LRT needs to be in this Corridor to link a million people in the east metro to the airport and many other locations on the growing Metropolitan LRT network, and vice versa.  
Interstate 94 could have been routed straight through Sauk Centre, giving the city a fancy new street and utilities.  Fortunately, highway planners knew the Interstate would have become a wall through the city, slowed down everyone with stoplights and inhibited normal use of the street.  Instead, they located I94 on the west side of town, making it a dedicated right-of-way (ROW), exclusively for highway traffic.  
Here, we have Ramsey County trying to put its “modern streetcar” (it’s really LRT) straight down the middle of West 7th Street.  That would be a disaster for the community and the region.  Hopefully our city and county leaders will be smart enough to put the LRT on its own dedicated ROW and off West 7th Street.  Amazingly, the old Canadian Pacific spur can provide that ROW.
West 7th Street needs its own bus route, convenient to the needs of the people to get to friends, stores and services up and down West 7th.  With strategic bus connections to LRT, Riverview Corridor residents will greatly benefit from the bigger LRT network, like their counterparts in Sauk Centre benefit from I94.
The purpose of LRT in the Riverview Corridor is to serve the east metro; the need is to do it in a way that benefits the Corridor without harming the Corridor.  We can do this, but Ramsey County must start living in the real world.
Jerome Johnson, James Schoettler, Jay Severance, Mat Hollinshead, Greg Struve, PE, and Brennan Malanaphy represent Citizen Advocates for Regional Transit (C-A-R-T), an informal association of Twin Cities executives focusing on the need for a balanced regional approach to transportation planning and development.

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