New West Bank location for light-rail stop proposed

Anna Ewart

The University isn’t the only Minneapolis community that will soon depend on light-rail transit.

Designers of the Central Corridor, a light-rail line slated to run across the Twin Cities and through campus, are seeking input from the community on a possible new location for the West Bank station.

The newly proposed location would place the station at street level on Washington Avenue underneath the 19th Avenue bridge.

Robin Caufman, manager of public involvement for the Central Corridor project, said the new location would differ from a previous proposal that put the station near Blegen Hall.

Sharon Johnson, a member of the Cedar-Riverside Business Association, said she was concerned that the previous proposal placed the station too close to the University, given the multitude of Cedar-Riverside commuters that use public transportation.

“Our business depends on people getting here,” said Johnson of Midwest Mountaineering.

Johnson, who has seen the new proposal, said she is pleased because it will benefit businesses, residents and the University.

“I think it’s a good compromise from the original location,” she said.

Kyle Williams, one of the managing architects working on the Central Corridor project, said identity and access are two factors that will dictate how well the station works for the community.

“Access is key,” Williams said, referring to the ease with which various communities will be able to get to and from the station.

He also said the station’s location should also bring people into the area.

There would be eight entrances to the proposed station, including at least one near the University and some with elevators.

Williams said locating the station beneath 19th Avenue would be useful for the

University as well as other community residents and institutions, such as Augsburg College.

Central Corridor planners on Nov. 20 presented the plan to Cedar-Riverside residents at the Brian Coyle Community Center.

The meeting was organized by the local Somali community, which wasn’t happy with the original Blegen Hall station location.

Ward 2 Councilman Cam Gordon spoke at the Nov. 20 meeting. He said the Central Corridor project will have to address the needs of many people.

“It’s very important that we get this right,” Gordon said.

Mohamed Ali Egal, executive director of the Somali Community Senior Center, said he is pleased with the new suggested location.

“It’s very accessible to our community,” he said. “It’s fantastic.”

Egal said a large percentage of the Somali community in Minneapolis uses public transportation.

Hussein Samatar, executive director of the African Development Center of Minnesota, said the new location is still too close to the University.

“We’d love to have it on Cedar (Avenue),” he said. “This is the goal.”

The Central Corridor project will place 11 miles of light rail tracks between downtown Minneapolis and downtown St. Paul by 2014, according to the Metropolitan Council which manages the project.

Stations on the East and West Banks and in Stadium Village will service the University. Parts of the line will be placed along University and Washington avenues.