Minneapolis — Twin Cities Study Streetcars
By means of a "Nicollet-Central Transit Alternatives Study" city planners are soliciting resident input on desired modes for a corridor connecting Nicollet and Central Avenues according to the Star Tribune. The modes being considered are streetcars and enhanced bus services. Open houses to discuss the concepts were scheduled for late September with more to follow in the first half of 2013.
Local experience with the under-construction Central Corridor light rail linking Minneapolis and St. Paul demonstrates the power that urban rail has to attract development. The Metropolitan Council counts almost 40 commercial/retail and housing developments and 5,100 units of new housing along the route connecting the Twin Cities. Further, the Hiawatha light rail line, opened in 2004, has seen nearly 2000 apartments constructed along its route. City officials are hoping a modern streetcar could have a similar effect on Nicollet.
The planned streetcar line would connect transit stations south and north of downtown with a route going through central Minneapolis passing many of the city's most popular venues. City planners and some developers hope development would follow this route, though scarcity of unused or underused land along the route may limit the potential.