Post by the Hawthorne Hawkman, photo from the MN DOT website.
In Mayor Rybak's recent state of the city address that focused primarily on north Minneapolis, he highlighted an amenity that has received much promotion on this blog: Streetcars along the West Broadway corridor. Specifically, Rybak announced city council support for an application for federal funding of a streetcar study. This however, is such a wonkish move that many people either don't know about it, dismiss it out of hand, or believe that streetcars simply won't happen in today's hyper-partisan political environment.
And there is a part of me that tries to picture how this might have gone down..."Streetcars are vital to West Broadway's economic development, and I say we need to take IMMEDIATE action! I therefore propose we take a non-binding voice vote in support of applying for funding for a feasibility study, with two other local partners as well, providing they support the application, so that we can then ask the federal government for funding that could potentially allow us to maybe keep on thinking about the issue."
On the other end of the spectrum, the Southwest Corridor LRT system is still bogged down in partisan bickering and concerns over a contractor that are actually quite valid. It's easy to be the cynic and say either that the proposed action is so minimal it amounts to very little, or that even steps in the right direction will get stonewalled in today's political and economic climate.
I would contend that regardless of the current political landscape, this kind of a study is one of the required steps towards a streetcar line along West Broadway. The study would help to demonstrate the economic benefits of streetcars; it would show how they might interact with other forms of transit on the northside such as LRT, BRT, bikes, pedestrians, and cars; and having two local partners in the Met Council and Hennepin County adds credence to the viability of this form of transit.
"Modern streetcars build vibrant streets. We need that on West Broadway," said Rybak.