Robbinsdale City Council approves work session for Blue Line Extension planning

Officials discuss attendance at Rail-Volution conference 

At its Oct. 18 meeting, the Robbinsdale City Council announced plans for a work session at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 1 to discuss the Blue Line Extension of light rail transit plans for historic interpretations at rail stations located on historic properties along the transit route.

A preliminary discussion of the planned historic interpretations happened at a work session Oct. 4. Metropolitan Council staff will attend the work session to provide further details about what federal requirements are for historic interpretations and to present visual examples of the options being considered.

The Blue Line Extension route, which will extend from downtown Minneapolis approximately 13 miles through Golden Valley, Robbinsdale, Crystal and Brooklyn Park, with one of 11 stations planned for Robbinsdale.

The work session will specifically address the Osseo Branch Line of the LRT, which includes a station in Crystal within the boundaries of the historic Ox Cart Trail. Planners routinely develop mitigation strategies when development is considered for historic sites to minimize impact. However, since the BNSF railway already runs where the future Blue Line will run, no impact solutions are necessary.
In this instance, mitigation for the Blue Line’s presence will include interpretive displays that acknowledge the historical significance of each site, in accordance with federal regulations.

Also at the council meeting, City Manager Marcia Glick and Councilmembers Bill Blonigan, Dan Rogan, and George Selman announced they had attended Rail-Volution, an annual metropolitan rail transit convention that helps municipalities address pressures related to the implementation and expansion of transit in their areas. The convention, Oct. 9-12 in San Francisco, featured workshops that enable participants to tour the transit lines of the host city to learn strategies related to redevelopment, including how to balance LRT expansions with issues like housing development, businesses, and parking. The Bay Area’s BART system was featured in this year’s convention.

The city officials said they took away constructive feedback from the convention about the critical nature of thorough early planning for an LRT extension project.

“The big thing that I came away with is that this really does affect us for 50 or 100 years. It might even be more than 100 years, because when you put your infrastructure in a certain spot, it’s not something that you can go out 10 years from now and move three blocks over without great expense,” said Blonigan. “It’s very important that we take the time and mechanisms to do this properly.”

Additionally, it was announced that Hennepin County has been awarded a $1.2 million grant to be applied specifically to the Blue Line/Bottineau Corridor LRT development.

Blonigan said Hennepin County was up against several other counties in competition for the grant.
“They’ve already helped us a lot,” he said. “We’ve already had some drawings and renditions of what a parking ramp would look like, how we could mitigate it.”

Further discussion of these early plans will unfold at the work session.

Selman also emphasized the importance of moving forward with the transit project in a timely manner.
“There are a lot of people vying for these federal dollars, and once you step out of line, you go back to the end of the line. It’s really important that we continue to forge ahead locally not just on this rail but on all of our transit expansion efforts here in the Twin Cities, just to catch up to other metropolitan areas.”

Contact Laci Gagliano at [email protected]