Minneapolis-St. Paul (Central Corridor)

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Central Corridor

Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota

(November 1996)

Description The Minnesota Department of Transportation and the railroad authorities of Hennepin and Ramsey Counties, acting as the Joint Lead Agencies (JLA), are studying light rail and bus alternatives in the 11 mile corridor between Minneapolis and St. Paul. The alternatives would serve the two downtowns and the University of Minnesota, and would be located within downtown streets, I-94 and railroad rights-of-way and along an existing busway. Preliminary cost estimates are $581 million for the LRT, $253 million for the busway, and $83 million for TSM (escalated dollars).

Status The Alternatives Analysis/draft Environmental Impact Statement was published in December 1993. Lack of state and local funding has impeded progress on the study and very little work is currently underway. If funding issues can be resolved, the JLA can then select a locally preferred alternative and begin the final Environmental Impact Statement and Preliminary Engineering.

Congress appropriated $2 million in Section 5303 money in FY 1991 for planning, and $7.74 million in Section 5309 New Start funds in FY 1994 and FY 1995. The project is not authorized in ISTEA.

Justification Mobility Improvements. The Central Corridor is one of the most densely developed and highest transit ridership corridors in the region. Projected daily travel time saved is 4,300 hours for the busway alternative and 4,700 hours for the LRT alternative.

Cost Effectiveness. The cost-effectiveness indices are $29 and $34 for the busway and LRT alternatives, respectively.

Environmental Benefits. Although the Twin Cities were designated a "moderate" nonattainment area for carbon monoxide, the area achieved the air quality standards for this pollutant in 1992-1993. The region is an attainment area for ozone. Information on the impact of the alternatives on regional air quality has not yet been developed. However, the busway and LRT alternatives are estimated to reduce the number of vehicle miles traveled in the region by less than 0.1 per cent while the TSM alternative would result in a reduction of less than half that amount.

Operating Efficiencies. Operating costs per transit rider for the No-Build, TSM, Busway and LRT alternatives are $2.06, $2.18, $2.29 and $2.27, respectively.

The Twin Cities are investigating several strategies and a package of funding sources for generating local funds for the capital costs of this project. The Twin Cities are assuming that between 50 percent and 80 percent of the capital cost of the project will come from Section 5309 New Start funds. In 1994, the average age of the buses in the Twin Cities was 5.8 years, which is better than the national average.