The proposed Southwest Transitway project would bring light rail to the West Calhoun District of Uptown, with a station located under the Lake Street Bridge just west of Market Plaza (entrance to Calhoun Village). The station would connect West Calhoun to Downtown Minneapolis and the Southwest suburban communities of St. Louis Park, Hopkins, Minnetonka, and Eden Prairie.
Hennepin County is working with the City of Minneapolis and a variety of consultants on a station area plan, stating that the station “is an opportunity to serve a major commercial and residential node, as well as the Minneapolis Chain of Lakes.”
There are a number of issues that the planners have discussed with the community, including items like whether to provide park and ride or not, how to accommodate a future Midtown Greenway transitway, how to deal with existing traffic, how to accommodate future growth in an area with high-value, stable retail, among others.
A Community Members’ Working Group (CMWG) was pulled together by Hennepin County in 2010 to discuss the station area planning process and provide initial feedback on conceptual plans.
What has lacked in this planning process are clear goals and strategies so that potential plan elements can be compared with the purpose of the planning process. That’s not to say that the goals and strategies don’t exist, rather that they aren’t apparent in the process. The West Calhoun Neighborhood Council has taken sizable steps to encourage public involvement in developing opportunities and areas of concern for the project for the planners to consider.
Below is a list of goals, strategies, and action items that I’ve toyed with as it relates to the West Calhoun Station planning process.
West Calhoun Station should be a safe place to visit and access.
Design the station and ways to access the station to use crime prevention design techniques to reduce likelihood of people-on-people criminal behavior.
- Utilize CPTED concepts in station area and access points.
Design the station access areas, including retrofitting existing nearby infrastructure, to minimize crashes between pedestrians, bikers, and automobiles.
- Analyze existing conditions to understand where the biggest safety risks are for street and trail crossings.
- Prioritize improvements that would have the most significant safety return.
West Calhoun Station should be easily accessible.
Design access to the station area to be convenient to get to by foot, bike, bus, and then by those dropping off passengers by car.
- Minimize out of the way or difficult connections.
- Provide adequate and nearby bike parking options.
Consider park and ride options, such as through the creation of parking structure(s) that allow the public to park and be allowed to go off premises to the park, to the light rail, or to other nearby uses. This would likely be a pay-to-park facility.
- Consider land use policies that would allow for the consolidation of surface parking in the area by providing public parking that could double as an option for park and ride for those willing to pay to park.
- If park-and-ride is provided, consider short term parking only to discourage the use of expensive real estate for long term free parking.
- Design accessibility so that it doesn’t worsen transportation network.
Design access to connect the station to nearby destinations, such as shopping, parks, offices, and housing.
- Improve ease of access between station area and where most LRT users would interface with Lake Calhoun, Lake of the Isles, and Cedar Lake.
- Utilize directional signage to guide unfamiliar guests to nearby businesses, trails, lakes, parks, and other major destinations.
West Calhoun Station should support economic development in the area.
Create policies that support the creation of jobs in the station area.
- Consider land use policies that support the creation of office space in the area.
- Consider land use policies that encourage and allow for increased commercial floor area in the area over what is currently existing.
Create policies that support existing and future businesses in the area.
- Consider station name/identity branding.
- Consider directional signage to guide unfamiliar guests to the nearby business districts.
West Calhoun Station should positively contribute to the livability of the area
Improve the quality of life for the community
- Minimize noise impacts of light rail vehicles and accompanying infrastructure on nearby residents and businesses.
- Minimize light impacts of light rail vehicles and accompanying infrastructure on nearby residents and businesses.
Create a sense of place for residents.
- Consider station name/identity branding.
- Consider public space around the station as a meeting place and neighborhood symbol.
- Consider making the station as a focal point for the community.
What would you add, remove, or alter? How do we ensure that the West Calhoun Station is integrated into the neighborhood and connects people to nearby destinations?
Photo credit: Metro Transit