Light rail project managers work to allay concerns

10:00 AM | Monday, July 4, 2022

Light rail trains running on County Road 81 would require the reconstruction of a street and a bridge

Every day, thousands of cars travel along County Road 81 (Boulevard Bottineau) in Crystal.

The road has three lanes of traffic going in both directions to accommodate these vehicles. But if the Extension of the blue metro line is approved, the train would run down the center of the route, eventually reducing the number of tracks from six to four.

“Our specific and most significant concerns are the traffic impacts of reducing Bottineau Boulevard from six lanes to four lanes,” said John Sutter, director of community development at Crystal. “And I would say city staff are skeptical but open-minded about it and the council is split on it.”

Reducing the number of traffic lanes was one of the details discussed June 29 when Hennepin County and Metropolitan Council officials organized a bus tour of the light rail line.

It’s a route they officially approved last month, which could include building a new interchange at Crystal at Bass Lake Road and County Road 81, rebuilding the inside lanes of the bridge that crosses the Canadian Pacific and working with MnDOT to rebuild the bridge over Highway 100.

County Road 81 in Crystal could be reduced from six to four lanes to accommodate light rail transit.

Obtain municipal consent

News of the route was met with opposition from Crystal and Robbinsdale executives. This is important because the project likely needs municipal consent from all towns along the route to proceed.

“We don’t think of it as if we don’t get consent from the municipality,” said Dan Soler, Hennepin County’s senior program administrator. “We’re thinking about it more, what are the design impacts, the design changes, the design aspects that we need to do to get a city to a place where it’s comfortable with municipal consent?”

In Robbinsdale, the track count would remain as is, but city officials expressed displeasure with the train running down the center of County Road 81 to begin with.

For now, project managers are now working to determine the location of the Robbinsdale LRT station and whether to build a park and ride facility next to Elim Lutheran Church so that existing businesses in the city does not lose parking.

“So how do we integrate the LRT into this downtown area to preserve the vision of what Robbinsdale is today,” Soler told a crowd during a stop in Robbinsdale. “It is part of our purpose and our mission.

It’s a mission they have a year to figure out before the big municipal consent vote.

See also: Blue Line Extension Light Rail Route Officially Approved

Brooklyn Park | Crystal | Robbinsdale

Jose P. Rogers