BY Paul Groessel
Sun POST Newspapers
Some Brooklyn Park residents who spoke during a May 13 meeting are concerned about Hennepin County’s preferred routing option for the proposed Bottineau Transitway light rail transit line, a proposed commuter train that would travel through West Broadway Avenue in Brooklyn Park.
Traffic congestion, safety and the line’s proximity to homes on the route were some of the routing concerns that most of the dozen speakers shared with the Hennepin County Regional Railroad Authority during a May 13 public hearing at Brooklyn Park City Hall. The hearing was about the Bottineau LRT’s Draft Environmental Impact Statement, which exceeds 800 pages.
According to the Bottineau LRT project website, the Draft EIS “documents the purpose and need for the project, alternatives considered, and addresses the anticipated transportation, social, and environmental impacts, and defines appropriate mitigation measures.”
Based on five transit goals it established, the county’s preferred LRT route would connect to the existing Blue Line (Hiawatha) in Minneapolis, and run approximately 13 miles north through Golden Valley, Crystal, Robbinsdale and up County Road 81 to West Broadway Avenue in Brooklyn Park, ending at the Target corporation’s north campus.
The train running along West Broadway was the main concern for many of the people in attendance at the May 13 hearing about the DEIS.
Many of the people who nearly filled the city council chambers raised their hands when resident Daniel Couture asked who in attendance arrived because of concerns about the train line going along populated stretches of West Broadway Avenue.
“We want you to put this somewhere else,” he said. “… People want to live near transit, they don’t want to live on transit.”
He said the DEIS lists 30 homes along Broadway would need to be taken for the project, but said the number does not represent the entire impact along West Broadway.
After the meeting, Couture said the DEIS does not include impacts from a proposed Broadway Avenue reconstruction project.
That road reconstruction is a separate project, but it would take LRT into account. The proposed reconstruction of West Broadway Avenue from south of Candlewood Drive to north of 93rd Avenue would provide a continuous four-lane divided highway, turn lanes at major intersections, traffic signals at five intersections and a multi-use trail on both sides of Broadway Avenue, among other changes, according to a project overview.
After the meeting, Eric Drager of the county’s Land Acquisition Group reconfirmed property acquisition estimates from a March open house for the project. The county is unclear on how many homes it would have to acquire for the road reconstruction, but it has estimated as many as 80 permanent and temporary acquisitions, he said. Permanent acquisition would be purchasing all or part of the land, and temporary acquisition would take place during the construction period, he said.
The county would have to look at the property impacts on a case-by-case basis, Drager said.
Resident Chris Berne shared a light rail re-route proposal that would run west of Broadway Avenue and create less impact but still reach the LRT’s final destination and be only blocks from Broadway Avenue and its stretch of businesses, homes, the North Hennepin Community College and future location of the new Brooklyn Park Library, he said.
After the hearing, County Senior Professional Engineer Brent Rusco said that option would likely not meet the county’s transit goals for the area. He said re-route options were considered in 2008-10 as part of the Bottineau Transitway “Alternative Analysis Study.”
That study resulted in 150-page and 180-page reports, including a “Universe of Alternatives” chapter that shows a similar route, among many other transit options, that was initially considered. That report, along with a library of other information and reports about the Bottineau LRT project, is available through the project website, bottineautransitway.org.
Not all were against the route, however. Resident Thomas Hanson said he was for the LRT project.
“I’ve lived in Brooklyn Park all of my life, and I’m glad to see light rail coming up,” he said.
With industry and development expansion in north Brooklyn Park, near the preferred train route’s end-of-the-line, NHCC, and new proposed library, the train will help filter an increase in traffic, Hanson said. And, spending $3 to reach downtown Minneapolis, the Minneapolis-St.Paul International Airport, Mall of America or southwest suburbs is an exciting prospect, he said.
“I do believe it’s one of the best things that could happen for Brooklyn Park,” Hanson said.
Comments on the DEIS will be accepted through May 29; a copy of it and other information is available at bottineautransitway.org.
Public feedback on the DEIS will be taken into account for the creation of the final Draft Environmental Impact Statement.
Contact Paul Groessel at [email protected] or follow the Sun Post on Twitter @ECMSunPost.