Bruininks asks for transportation hub

The Stadium Village light rail station may provide riders with more than just a place to hop on the train. In a letter sent to Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., University of Minnesota President Bob Bruininks listed a number of infrastructure projects that could be started quickly if funding for higher education is built into the national economic stimulus package. A proposed $36 million multimodal transportation center was included, and would serve as a hub for all forms of transportation in Stadium Village. The proposed center would provide a park-and-ride location for the Central Corridor LRT, connect the light rail with buses, and provide bicycle commuters with shower, repair and storage facilities, according to BruininksâÄô letter. Bob Baker, director of the UniversityâÄôs Parking and Transportation Services, said buses serving the center would include Campus Connectors, Metro Transit and other suburban transit providers. In addition to shower, repair and storage facilities, the center may also include a small retail and repair shop for bicyclists, he said. The park-and-ride would be included to service the commuters who lost parking due to stadium construction, as well as the new riders that will come with the development of research facilities in the area, he said. âÄúItâÄôs exciting from a transportation standpoint because you have all these transportation modes intersecting in one spot,âÄù he said. The center would be located where the Minnesota parking lot currently stands, between 23rd and 25th avenues near TCF Bank Stadium. It would be adjacent to the Stadium Village light rail station, Baker said. The letter states that the center would expand bicycle and transit usage, and improve energy conservation and the environment. Jason Cao, an assistant professor of transportation planning at the Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs, said a multimodal transportation center could help the environment by boosting transit ridership, but much depends on how itâÄôs designed. Cao said a park-and-ride isnâÄôt necessarily needed. âÄúThe University is going to be the main stop for most people using the light rail,âÄù he said. âÄúIâÄôm not sure why they would need to park their cars and go somewhere else.âÄù However, Cao said a center like this would be a good place to attract people by including businesses. âÄúWe want this center to attract visitors by making it a place where you can do all kinds of business,âÄù he said, adding that a post office, bank, or bookstore would make the center more appealing to visitors. University spokesman Dan Wolter said BruininksâÄô letter is not a formal request for funding, but intended to inform Congress of the UniversityâÄôs âÄúshovel-readyâÄù projects, which could be considered for an economic stimulus package. âÄú[These projects] have locations and concepts in place and we can get engineers working on them quickly,âÄù he said. Higher education funding as part of the national stimulus package will help create jobs and support education, Wolter said, which is an investment in future economic health. According to University officials, the center plans are still in the design phase and are subject to change before they finish.