New rapid transit bus service to cross Edina | Edine
Line E offered by Metro Transit, a new bus rapid transit service, will pass through Edina, including commercial nodes such as 50th and France.
The main public transport operator in the metropolitan area has released a draft plan for the proposed E line this fall. Once installed, it would largely replace the much-used Route 6 line. Six of the new stations to be built under the proposed plan would be partially or fully located in Edina, along Avenue France to the center. Southdale Transit Station.
The city’s main shopping district, 50th & France, is one such key point, sparking discussions among business leaders about the impacts of a new station at the corner of Avenue France and 50th Street. .
The 13.3-mile line will connect the Southdale Transit Center to the METRO Green Line Westgate station near downtown Minneapolis and the University of Minnesota. It will be equipped with rapid transit service, stopping at fewer locations along the line than Route 6. Stops are placed approximately 0.4 miles apart, for a total of 34 locations. Buses are supposed to run every 10 minutes.
Line 6 buses will continue to be used but will not run on France Avenue, Wooddale Avenue or 39th Street once Line E begins to operate.
Planning for the new E line began in 2018, when a study assessed the location of the corridor and terminals. The resulting route layout was then adopted by the Metropolitan Council in early 2020. The draft plan released this fall was developed by Metro Transit staff with input from a technical advisory committee and the public.
Bus rapid transit lines run on “mixed-traffic urban corridors”, according to the plan. Line E will be the fifth line to operate as part of Metro Transit’s bus rapid transit service when completed.
Each of these quick service line stations typically includes bus shelters equipped with heaters and lights, ticket machines and fare card validators, emergency telephones, and real-time bus information signs.
Public comments on the most recent draft plan closed at the end of October. Metro Transit staff are currently evaluating the comments and will return for further public comment with a recommended plan towards the end of January, said Kyle Burrows, senior planner for Metro Transit, which works on bus rapid transit projects. .
One of the stations offered by Line E is located at the intersection of 50th Street and France Avenue, in the heart of the shopping district on the border of Edina and Minneapolis.
One of the justifications for putting a rapid transit stop at 50th & France is its high ridership, Burrows said. He noted that before the pandemic there were around 55 people per day getting on and off stationary in each direction on average. While current ridership has yet to reach that level, Burrows said Metro Transit expects it to return.
Business leaders from the 50th & France Business and Professional Association met with Metro Transit planners late last month as part of the operator’s public engagement process for the new E line. meeting, business leaders had the opportunity to hear about the new route and provide feedback.
Some concerns raised at the meeting and the Sun Current included the location of the new station at 50th & France, and the impact on the storefronts and character of the neighborhood.
Currently, the two bus stops along Avenue France are located opposite Athleta and what was once Sur La Table. As proposed in the draft plan, one of the new stations would continue to sit in front of what was Sur La Table, but the other would be moved to be in front of Anthropologie. Each station would be located just beyond the two-way traffic lights with an emergency platform.
Placing stations just beyond traffic lights is intentional, Burrows said. This would allow buses to cross the intersection before picking up passengers, “to really improve the speed and reliability of service on this corridor,” he said.
Speed ââand reliability through the new rapid transit service is a key part of the plan, which aims to accelerate service by 20%, Burrows noted. Buses that stop before crossing the intersection can cause delays of 60 to 90 seconds per stop. âThat sort of thing is really starting to add up,â Burrows said.
To provide faster service, the implementation of a traffic light priority system is also being evaluated, according to the plan. This would allow the signal to maintain “the green light a little longer” for the oncoming bus, Burrows explained.
But with the buses stopping after the intersection, if that’s the only lane available, the cars could get stuck behind them – a point discussed during the meeting with Metro Transit and 50th & France business leaders, according to Judy Johnson, director of business district services for the 50th & France arrondissement.
âIt’s a very busy intersection,â she noted.
Parking was also one of the concerns raised at the meeting. Some on-street parking will be replaced with the new bus platform, but some will also be added when the Route 6 stops are replaced, Burrows said.
Another concern raised was the location of bus shelters, which could block the view of the storefronts behind. Burrows said Metro Transit plans to mitigate disruption to storefronts, in part through its use of clear glass.
âIn general, we have in the past implemented our (bus rapid transit) very successfully,â including in busy trade nodes like 50th & France, said Burrows.
Bus shelters “change the landscape of the streets,” Johnson said.
She added that during the meeting, the thoughts expressed by business leaders were to “ensure that as changes are made, the impacts on businesses are mitigated to the extent possible. “.
The new plan “has an impact on many people, such as traffic, the ability to walk andâ¦ the character of the neighborhood,” said Scott Busyn, a resident of Edina, who is also president of Great Neighborhood Homes, based to Edina.
Busyn, who did not attend the meeting, suggested moving the stops one block away, calling for a better “path of least resistance for this busy intersection.”
Johnson said business leaders in the district were in favor of public transit. âWe recognize how important it is from a business point of view and just helping workers to enter the neighborhood and people who want to shop there and just be connected to the area in general,â a- she declared.
The new bus stations will be useful in speeding up the movement of people, Busyn said. “I am definitely for public transit as a way for people to get around and get to work to go out for fun.”
He added: “I just think people should be aware thatâ¦ it would have an impact on the look there.”
A public comment period on the recommended E Line plan will take place in late January. A final plan will be presented to the Metropolitan Council for review in spring 2022.
Construction is expected to start in 2024.
– Follow Caitlin Anderson on Twitter @EdinaSunCurrent
Editor’s Note: Judy Johnson sits on Metropolitan Council as a representative for District 1, which does not cover Edina.
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