Students design access to light rail

The project, part of a University course, aims to improve pedestrian accessibility to light rail transit.

Ed Swaray

A class project that could make light rail transit in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood more accessible to pedestrians is nearing completion.

“We want to provide ideas and information the community can take and use in the future,” said Ann Forsyth, professor and director of the University’s Design Center for American Urban


Forsyth, whose class will complete the project at the end of the semester, said the idea initially came from the city of Minneapolis.

Last fall, a proposed community committee was asked to find ways to create pedestrian infrastructure around the light rail


Forsyth, who was to be a technical assistant on the committee, said because the committee did not start work because of a lack of funds, she suggested the idea to students in her class earlier this semester. They have been working on it since, she said.

The project is divided into three parts, Forsyth said. It includes community and economic development, pedestrian circulation and open, or green, space.

She said each part, although different in its approach, is geared toward improving the current structure of the neighborhood.

Kelly Fetzer, a graduate student of landscape architecture, said the community and economic development part of the project could help improve access to businesses in the area.

For example, she said by rerouting Riverside Avenue to Fifth Street South, commuters would have easy access to businesses in the area.

“This will make it a better streetscape,” Fetzer said.

Chris Ochs, another student, said opening the corridors on Cedar Avenue could give it more of a human element.

“Design is the third dimension of planning that is not often given adequate consideration,” he said. “But it is a valuable tool to create habitable places.”

Classmate Tyler Grissman agreed and said the community needs more open spaces.

There are bits and pieces of open areas not developed to their full potential, Grissman said.

“If designed right, we could create a wonderful system of open spaces in the Cedar-Riverside area,” he said.

By incorporating art pieces into the spaces, the community could also have a sense of identity, Grissman said.

Forsyth said her class is working with three community organizations and will submit the final project to them at the end of the semester.

Dan Prozinski, president of the Cedar-Riverside Business Association, said he was impressed by the idea earlier this semester.

“It is a great opportunity for the neighborhood to take advantage of the skills and creative effort of the class,” he said.

Prozinski said his organization looks forward to seeing the final project and acting on it.

The class will show its initial work Sunday in a community presentation at Augsburg