The proposed Bottineau Transitway, which would be either Light Rail Transit (LRT) or Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), is filled with enough unknowns and unanswered questions so as to cause a sizeable contingent of Golden Valley leaders to want to see a lot more information and answers before embracing either version coming through Golden Valley.
At a Golden Valley city council work session Monday night, approximately 35 people, made up of members of the council, the city administration, departments and commissions, delved into the possibilities being offered for the Transitway. Two hours later, plenty of questions, and even some doubts, lingered as to where the project would come through Golden Valley.
“We need to look at the least amount of negative impact on Golden Valley,” said Mayor Shep Harris.
He also said the city wants to fully understand what Hennepin County and the Metropolitan Council will do for the city to help make the project as easy as possible for local residents.
The crux of the issue is where the proposed line enters and exits Golden Valley, if it should at all. There are two options, one known as D1, the other known as D2.
Heading south, D1 would enter Golden Valley in the northeast portion of the city, proceed south down the city’s eastern edge along the BNSF rail line and then would head east along Highway 55 into downtown Minneapolis.
Heading south on D2 the line would head east into Robbinsdale, go by North Memorial Hospital, into north Minneapolis then down Broadway Avenue, along Penn Avenue to Highway 55 for the turn east to downtown.
Monday night’s meeting centered on several concerns. First would be where to put a station, or stations, for the line. In the D1 option, preliminary design plans call for one at Golden Valley Road. Also discussed were issues around park and ride facilities, whether the D1 line would work because it would be located a long way from many residential homes in Golden Valley and whether a significant number of residents would use the line because Golden Valley is so close to downtown.
City Planner Joe Hogeboom, who along with Harris served as a moderator for the meeting, reminded the audience that the Bottineau Transitway would become part of the bigger metro area system.
“It could be used to get to places other than just downtown such as the Mall of America,” he pointed out.
One member of the group said it would make no sense to have Golden Valley just be a pass-thru with no stations. Others pointed out that the D2 route through north Minneapolis, would probably serve a higher number of potential users.
The process calls for the city to present its questions and concerns to the Hennepin County Regional Railroad Authority by mid-February. The statement is then presented to the federal government, which provides 50 percent of the funding for all such transit systems and must issue final approval. Ten percent of the additional funding comes from the State of Minnesota with the remaining balance from special Hennepin county taxes set aside for mass transit projects, notably rail.
If the project makes it through a long approval process, construction could start in 2015 or 2016 to be operational by 2018 or 2019.