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WEST 7th No LRT Sign
W7BA Transit Survey
Petition to Riverview

W7BA letter to Ramsey County Regional Rail Authority

March 8, 2016

Ramsey County Regional Rail Authority 214 4th St. East
St. Paul, MN 55101

Attn: Kevin Roggenbuck, Senior Transportation Manager

Re: Riverview Corridor Pre-­Project Development Study

The West 7th Business Association and its 70+ members have been following the Pre-Project transit study with great interest. We support transit improvements for our customers, our employees and our neighbors. The goal of improved transit service through the study’s guiding Purpose and Needs statement is important to our members.

Recently, the Policy Advisory Committee (PAC) for the study has narrowed the preferred alignment to West 7th Street with possible pinch point relief to the river valley and the Canadian Pacific spur. West 7th Street and the West End is the home of most of our member businesses. We note that the decision‐making pace is speeding up as staff and consultants are approaching the PAC goal of recommending to the public the Locally Preferred Alternative (LPA) for transit by June. We and our member businesses and our designated representative at the PAC, Pat Mancini, have participated in the process, gathered information and offered our comments individually. We offer this letter for the record regarding the transit mode preference of our members.

We would request that the existing profile of street Right of Way at approximately 80 feet be retained with two sidewalks, two parking lanes, two driving lanes and one shared left turn lane.

We would request the following improvements to bus service be considered where appropriate:
A – Pre­‐ticketing kiosks at bus stops
B – Handicapped accessibility at stops C – Additional and more frequent stops
D – Improved safety measures and trash collection at stops
E – Improved amenities such as those suggested at streetcar or BRT stops

West 7th Business Association -­ PO Box 16582 -­ Saint Paul, MN 55116 www.w7ba.org

We would also request for the neighborhood that transit planners work with The City of St. Paul to improve all crosswalks and deploy traffic calming measures on W. 7th Street at all bus stops on W. 7th Street.

We agree that transit improvements should be made on West 7th Street where our businesses, employees and customers are located, provided the mode chosen is consistent with the following:

  1. In June of 2014, a meeting of businesses and neighbors was held at Cossetta’s. The meeting was moderated by our then President Joe Landsberger. A presentation of the City’s Streetcar Study by City Planner Michelle Beaulieu was followed by a discussion with the more than 75 people in attendance. At this meeting, the Business Association found no support for streetcars on West 7th Street. That opposition to streetcars on West 7th was reported by Joe Landsberger to the public hearing of City Council on July 9, 2014. It was at that hearing that further study of streetcars in the city was suspended pending results of the Riverview study. Although this current study has not focused on modern streetcars in the way the suspended study did, we are confident our member opinion has not changed.
  2. In January of 2015 the Metropolitan Council adopted its long‐range Thrive MSP 2040 plan, including its regional transportation policy guide for the next 30 years. Included in the plan was a rigorous set of collected ridership data that was also updated for this current Corridor study and accepted by the PAC in the summer of 2015. We agree with the recommendation of the planners at the Met Council that the existing 54 bus with improvements such as the ones we recommend above would meet transit needs with capacity to spare for the next 30 years.
  3. We have received a copy of the transit resolution adopted by the Fort Road Federation Board of Directors on Feb. 8, 2016. Their request that you not adopt a mode of transit that restricts left hand turns and requires a fixed guideway is consistent with our member interests. In addition their resolution indicating that you not consider use of a portion of the CP spur is consistent with indications from Canadian Pacific officials that the spur is not currently available for public transit purposes.
  4. We do recognize that our neighborhood will continue to be a path for transit on existing major arteries, Shepard Road, West 7th and 35E, as well as the significant rail facilities, all of which divide our neighborhood in ongoing detrimental ways. These transit facilities serve us and the general public, but have not been seen as supportive of a livable community that is so commonly sought today. A choice of LRT as the transit mode on West 7th Street with its barrier-­creating fixed guideway is not consistent with a walking and biking neighborhood, nor does it support the local small businesses needed to maintain economic viability. Transportation modes from the last two centuries have created significant barriers in our neighborhood. Do not divide us again with a 21st century transit project.
  5. The Great River Passage plan was adopted into the City’s comprehensive plan in April of 2013. This plan seeks to reconnect the city with our roots and history at the Mississippi River in new and exciting ways. The construction of another barrier across the length of the corridor will add to the current barriers that have long frustrated safe use of this great natural resource. The driving force of development in our neighborhood should remain to be the river. It would be a tragic distortion of development tendencies along the river if they are distracted by what is commonly referred to as Transit Oriented Development (TOD). The demands of a high-­dollar transit investment require new initiatives to be oriented to the transit investment. But development should be allowed to proceed organically as it relates to the river, not to transit. TOD will not be compatible with the historic property of the near downtown small locally owned businesses. The West End is also characterized by business ownership that is local, small and vulnerable to the financial stress of a two-­year LRT construction process.
  6. On March 1, 2016, the West 7th Business Association hosted a status update presentation by Mike Rogers from the study team. Thirty people attended and participated in the one-­hour program that included comments and questions for Mr. Rogers. The Business Association initiated a single-­question survey at this meeting that will proceed for a short period of time. The responses will be provided as soon as possible. Preliminary analysis indicates that the result will be consistent with these comments. It can be stated from the audience comments and the survey replies, that there was no support for LRT in the audience.

Finally we agree with the statement made by Metropolitan Council Chair Adam Duininck at the State Legislature that the future of transit in the region is busses. Not every neighborhood has the ridership to justify LRT, and in some neighborhoods it just doesn’t fit. The West End is one of those neighborhoods.

We offer these comments in support of our membership in its desire for improved transit on West 7th Street. The Board of Directors of the West 7th Business Association unanimously approved this letter on March 8, 2016.

Contact for Questions: Kent Petterson, W7BA President; 651-­222-­5536, president@w7ba.org

Sincerely,

West 7th Business Association Board of Directors