Blue Line Extension: Community creates anti-displacement recommendations through deep engagement

Date: Tuesday, June 27, 2023

People sitting and standing in a room with several tables.The Metropolitan Council is taking public engagement on the Blue Line light rail extension project to a new level to ensure we gain a deep understanding of community needs, opportunities, and the impact of the project. The goal is to ensure residents and businesses currently along the route are the ones to benefit from this transformative transit investment.

A year and a half ago, the Met Council and Hennepin County asked the University of Minnesota’s Center for Urban and Regional Affairs (CURA) to facilitate a working group of neighborhood residents, businesses, city representatives, community organizations, and nonprofits in the corridor. 18 months of group discussions, community meetings, and one-on-one outreach has resulted in a detailed roadmap to help our region navigate the human side of building a light rail route.

Met Council officials agree with the CURA report, Blue Line Extension Anti-Displacement Recommendations, that the line will only be a success if it benefits the people who are living and working along the route right now. “The line should be an engine of opportunity for people who are living there today, instead of a catalyst for displacement,” said Met Council Chair Charlie Zelle.

Connecting the region to a culturally rich corridor

The proposed route will serve the northwest metro, including neighborhoods from downtown Minneapolis, the Northside, to Robbinsdale, Crystal, and Brooklyn Park. Neighborhoods throughout the corridor are home to many local businesses, nonprofits, and community organizations that invest in housing, arts, small businesses, and youth programming. The line will serve key cultural and commercial destinations like the West Broadway corridor in North Minneapolis and Robbinsdale’s historic downtown area, opening opportunities to connect more customers and people to vibrant areas along the line.

The Blue Line Extension project is in the design and engineering phase. While a general preferred route has been selected, many important decisions remain, including route options between Target Field Station and West Broadway or 21st Avenue North. Specific station locations and even track placements still must be worked out, too. Hundreds of decisions need to be made, and they will all need the input and advice from the people the line will serve.

Commercial buildings, a wide street, and trees.

What’s at stake as the light rail line is built

There is no question the proposed line will bring significant investment and economic growth. But many residents wonder who will benefit. This Blue Line extension route has many small, neighborhood businesses and naturally occurring affordable housing that are all part of a vibrant, unique community.

The 17 desired outcomes listed in the report would ensure that business owners can stay in business, residents can still afford their rent, rising property taxes don’t force homeowners to sell, public infrastructure and other amenities are improved, and that rich culture of the communities served are further enriched by the presence of the light rail line.

Moving the recommendations forward

The CURA report makes specific recommendations for each city along the line. While many of the ideas and approaches have been used to plan and build past transit routes, they have never been incorporated at the recommended scale. One of the key points made by CURA is that no single entity can do this work.

That point is being taken seriously by the Blue Line’s Corridor Management Committee. The committee has representatives from the Met Council, Hennepin County, all the cities the line will serve, along with business and community leaders. This month, the committee passed a resolution to create a framework and public engagement plan to carry this work to the next level. It will include extensive public engagement with community members, public, nonprofit, and philanthropic organizations, and business members.

“This is an important next step,” said Zelle, who chairs the committee. “We can only move at the speed of trust.”

Learn more and share feedback on the report

Posted In: Transportation

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