Minneapolis

Orange Line BRT debuts along Interstate 35W, linking Burnsville and Minneapolis

2021-12-04 17:38:01 –

The Interstate Highway 35W between Minneapolis and the outskirts of the South Metro was the busiest commuter corridor in the state. Improvements in bus services along the way have been debated for decades, but there is little indication of that.

But on Saturday, service was launched on the Orange Line, a $ 150 million Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project that connects downtown Minneapolis and Burnsville almost entirely along I-35W via Richfield and Bloomington. It has started.

“The investment we make here is transgenerational,” Governor Tim Walz said at a chilly ceremony in Minneapolis on Saturday to commemorate the opening of the route. “This is not just a bus route, it connects the community.”

17 miles line When infrastructure is at the forefront of both transport planners and legislators since President Joe Biden signed a $ 1 trillion infrastructure bill last month to support public transport and other projects across the country. Debut in. gold When Purple The line has the potential to benefit from large funding packages over the next few years.

Orange line is $ 74 million received Biden advertised the project during his trip to Twin Cities last week, as it wasn’t a large part of the infrastructure from the federal government. “It will change things,” he said.

However, its launch occurred as a COVID-19 pandemic, and the subsequent shift to remote work drastically reduced the number of transit passengers. In particular, it is the commuting route that traditionally carried suburban office workers to downtown Minneapolis and St. Paul.

Charles Carlson, Metro Transit’s BRT project director, said the Orange Line’s all-day service fits into the new ridership paradigm that has emerged since the pandemic.

“What we saw during the pandemic was the strength of the all-purpose trip,” Carlson said. “Although fewer people may be in the office during peak mornings and afternoons, we are focusing on all types of travel, including shopping, school and medical appointments.”

Buses on the Orange Line run every 15 minutes on weekdays and 30 minutes on weekends and nights, seven days a week. One way takes 38 minutes to the south and 34 minutes to the north.

Buses use the high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) E-Z Passlanes at the I-35W and Marquette and Second Avenue Transit Corridors in downtown Minneapolis. Also, most intersections have signal priority.

The diesel bus has three doors. Passengers must pay before boarding to prevent lining up in the fare box. Twelve stations on this heated line are equipped with security cameras and real-time schedule information.

When asked about potential passengers, Carlson said there were about 14,000 bus-riders daily on the I-35W before the pandemic.

The new $ 20 million Lake Street station on the line, which opened in October, is the centerpiece of the project. Widely expected by transit users, it replaces the dilapidated bus stops that border the freeway and the dangerous stairs that lead from Lake Street to the freeway.

Robert Religlen, a member of the Metropolitan Council, said he remembers climbing the stairs many years ago and encountering a giant snowman there. A pair of winter boots “frozen in an ice mound as if someone had lost them while jumping on the bus. Look at what we have here now.”

Construction of a station in collaboration with MnDOT’s $ 240 million crosstown-downtown overhaul project along I-35W completed last fall. The double-decker station is located in the center of I-35W and provides elevator service to the boarding platform.

“This is a revolutionary improvement in access,” Carlson said of Lake Street Station. “When the highway was built, there was no convenient and convenient access to this neighborhood.”

Perhaps the greatest engineering feat on this route is the tunnel under Interstate 494, crossing the I-35W along Knox Avenue. Buses do not have to cross the busy I-494 on a slope near Best Buy’s headquarters and include lanes for pedestrians and bicycles, saving 10 minutes on route schedules.

There is talk of the possibility of extending the route to Burnsville Center Mall, but there are no immediate plans to extend the Orange Line.

“All of this takes time,” said Elizabeth Kautz, Mayor of Burnsville. “It doesn’t happen overnight.”

Orange Line BRT debuts along Interstate 35W, linking Burnsville and Minneapolis Source link Orange Line BRT debuts along Interstate 35W, linking Burnsville and Minneapolis

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