With all of the talk about Buffalo’s progress, and Light Rail being an integral component to growing this city exponentially, maybe we should be looking to other cities, to see what they did right, when it comes to making public transportation work. A BRO reader has passed along an article in CNN (Money) that takes a look at a new transit system that connects Target Field to Union Depot in Minneapolis (see article here).
The billion dollar light rail line, located along a struggling economic corridor, was bundled with energy projects, art installations, and even the construction of a brewery near a number of grain silos. There are even talks of a “Future City” with arts and business incubators, and on-site power generation and some space age, sci-fi conveniences that are getting people talking about, utilizing, and clamoring towards formerly underutilized properties.
Of course a world of controversy surrounded the implementation of the transit system before it was constructed, but sometimes actions speak louder than words. According to CNN, “Since the engineering began five years ago, over $2.5 billion in investment has been announced within a half mile of the tracks (per the Metropolitan Council, which runs the line).” Some of those investments also include senior housing and affordable housing. There was an emphasis on small business loans along the line, and community engagement. It appears that at first much of the community was afraid that it would be ripped apart, similar to various Urban Renewal initiatives that did just that. Fortunately, it looks as if those who were originally fearful of the progress, are now benefitting from the economic results.
As Buffalo continues to plug away, daydreaming about what the future of the Metro Rail beholds (see conversations), we will continue to look to other cities and their accomplishments, while hopefully learning in the process. We have our Metro Rail. We have the makings of The Belt Line. We have the components to make it all possible. Now we just need another Buffalo Billion to get the wheels rolling (or something of that nature).
Photo: Metropolitan Council