Downtown Minneapolis (fantasy transit)
Downtown Minneapolis is the heart of the Twin Cities metro area, and thus should be the core area for transit service to branch out from. Part and parcel to my fantasy transit ideas is that the two main LRT lines I would run through downtown would be underground. I can think of only two reasons for running such LRT lines at-grade: cost, and the potential to create a pedestrian corridor (as is trying to be done with the 5th St corridor for the existing Hiawatha LRT line). However, there are several reasons for putting LRT underground within downtown:
The above are my own reasons for putting LRT underground, and are comparable to the reasons that the Hennepin County Regional Railroad Authority (HCRRA) suggested in its Comprehensive LRT System Plan for Hennepin County (ca. 1988):
As I mentioned above, I would run two LRT lines underground through downtown, with each line splitting into two separate lines in each direction from downtown, for a total of 8 LRT lines converging on downtown. One would be a north-south line connecting to my fantasy Lakeville (35W), Hennepin, Northtown, and Roseville lines. The other would run northwest-southeast, connecting to the Southwest, Bottineau (Northwest), Hiawatha, and University (Central) lines.
The north-south joined line begins underneath 2nd Ave/Grant St at the main entrance to the Minneapolis Convention Center. This is where the Lakeville and Hennepin lines come together from the south and also where the line connects with the Nicollet streetcar line. The joined line heads northward underground to 10th St/Nicollet Mall, where the line then continues underneath Nicollet Mall. Stations would be provided at Downtown South (in front of the downtown Target store, with connection to the 9th St streetcar line), City Center (at 6th St, with connection to the east-west LRT line through downtown), and the Downtown Library (just south of 3rd St). At Washington Ave, the line starts rising, coming back to grade in the median of Hennepin Ave at the south end of the Hennepin Ave bridge over the Mississippi River.
The east-west joined line begins underground at a relocated "Downtown Multimodal Station" under the new Twins Stadium, where the line would connect with several commuter rail lines, three intercity rail lines, and a high-speed-rail line to Chicago. The line passes underneath the Twins Stadium then follows underneath 6th St to near the 6th St/Portland Ave intersection, where the line cuts east-northeast to the Downtown East/Metrodome station, which under my fantasy system would be relocated underground. This line returns to grade east of the Downtown East station, around 10th Ave, then splits into the Hiawatha and University lines. Besides the Multimodal and Downtown East stations, there would be stations at Target Center (with connection to the 1st Ave streetcar line), City Center (with connection to the north-south line), and the Hennepin County Government Center (with connection to the 3rd Ave streetcar line).
The following map shows the fantasy LRT routing through downtown Minneapolis:
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Page last modified 23 December, 2007