Minneapolis-St. Paul — St. Paul Council Backs Streetcar
The Star Tribune reports that after the successful opening of the new University Avenue light rail line, the St. Paul City Council gave tentative approval to a seven-route streetcar network. They also voted to support a full study of an initial route which would total 4.1 miles along 7th street between the West End and East Side.
The city is following in the foot steps of Minneapolis which approved a streetcar network four years ago and is in advanced planning for a 3.4-mile initial route along Nicollet and hennepin avenues.
Advocates claim the St. Paul network is needed to encourage economic activity in the city and not lose ground to Minneapolis as it invests in transit.
The initial St. Paul route is estimated to cost $250 million, a figure that many who attended the council meeting felt was too high. Residents told council members that streetcars are inflexible and disruptive during construction and cost more than they are worth. Others said the money could be better used to rebuild city streets.
Supporters testified in favor of streetcars claiming that more than half of the roughly 300 pieces of feedback that have come through various channels supported the plan. Key points backers made are that streetcars would be dependable, save fuel, and stimulate economic development.
The council voted to support further study, claiming that it was moving the process forward and was not at this point approving construction.