The Blue Line Corridor Management Committee reviewed a myriad of items at its Nov. 12 meeting. Chief among them was more clarity on how the proposed light rail, which is planned to extend from Brooklyn Park to the Target Field station in Minneapolis, will fit through north Minneapolis.

Project Engineer Nick Landwer provided visuals and analysis on certain sections of city streets the rail could be plotted along.

All of the segments are viewable online at bluelineext.org.

Landwer said project staff is seeking input on each of the route alternatives, one which follows West Broadway and another linking to Lowry Avenue.

Anti-displacement update

Blue Line officials also received a progress report from a recently hired firm that will focus on anti-displacement work along the route. The firm, the Center of Urban and Regional Affairs, is a University of Minnesota research group.

CURA Director C Terrence Anderson said the biggest priority for the group was preparing staff to undertake research and engagement. He said the seven research studies planned for the group so far would take “a lot of administrative organization to key up,” and the group was in the process of onboarding the project team and hiring graduate research assistants.

CURA was also gathering information to propose an “anti-displacement table,” a group that Anderson said would be defined by the end of the year.

Anderson said aside from the planned studies, he wanted to hear input on any other areas of research stakeholders and community members felt were missing.

“There is a lot of time built within our schedule to really slow down and move at the pace of the community,” he said.

Corridor Management Committee Chair and Metropolitan Council Chair Charlie Zelle said he looked forward to “tangible results” from the group. He said he knew personally of road projects to which anti-displacement work had not been afforded led to poor results.

‘Community-supported route’

According to timelines reviewed at the meeting, a draft route modification report will be published for public review in December. The report will also be published before the next Corridor Management Committee meeting, and be open to public comment for 45 days.

In March, a final recommendation will be made for a community-supported Blue Line Extension alignment.

At one point in the meeting, committee member and Robbinsdale City Councilmember George Selman asked for what sort of criteria the project office would use to define a “community-supported alignment.”

Landwer said that the comments from the December report would be compiled by staff to form a recommendation for the community-supported alignment.

Selman countered that perhaps the recommendation in March would be “a staff-supported alignment, based on their interpretation of community input.”

Mike Steinhauser, a co-chair for the Blue Line Business Advisory Committee, agreed that he was confused about the wording of the March recommendation.

“Do you even go to the city of Minneapolis, and Brooklyn Park and Robbinsdale, and sit with the councilmembers ... is that part of the process?” said Steinhauser.

Blue Line Public Involvement Manager Sam O’Connell said Landwer had been meeting “almost weekly” with city staff to discuss design, and meetings had also been conducted with local government officials.

“So folks are aware of design and how it progresses, and some of the issues and challenges and opportunities that we’re moving forward,” she said.

County Commissioner Irene Fernando said the wording of the timeline also gave her pause. In other conversations about the Blue Line, she said she had learned that after the March recommendation, the project office would still need to conduct its environmental review.

O’Connell said the recommendation would allow engineers to move forward “with more detailed design.” She said currently, the project was near a 4% design completion. More checkpoints would occur at the 30%, 60% and 90% marks, and the process of municipal consent.

The next Corridor Management Committee meeting is tentatively set for Dec. 9, though could be pushed to coincide with the release of the draft route modification report.

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