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22 Successful Strategies METRO TRANSIT The commitment to provide dedicated rights-of-way for tran- Metro Transit serves the twin cities of Minneapolis and sit service was made early in the design process. Early com- St. Paul, Minnesota, and the surrounding metropolitan areas mitment is key to successfully integrating transit into this in its seven-county service area. Metro Transit is one of the new development. Although sufficient densities to support country's largest transit systems, providing approximately transit service will not exist for several years, the land has 70 million bus trips annually. Metro Transit operates the been preserved for this future use. Incorporating the right-of- Hiawatha light-rail line, 129 bus routes, and 14 contract ser- way into the development was easy to accommodate early in vice routes, using a fleet of 878 buses. the process when streets, parks, subdivisions, and other major land uses were proposed. However, once this stage of Metro Transit is part of the Metropolitan Council, the the design process is passed, it would likely become signifi- regional planning agency serving the Twin Cities seven- cantly more difficult to include this right-of-way later in the county metropolitan area, with a population of just over process. 2.6 million people. Inclusion of the transit agency within the regional planning agency is a fairly unique organiza- In California, an environmental review planning process tional structure. The Metropolitan Reorganization Act of assists transit agencies in having input to new developments. 1994 merged the functions of three agencies (the Metro- The state of California Environment Quality Act requires a politan Transit Commission, the Regional Transit Board, review process for projects that have the potential to physi- and the Metropolitan Waste Control Commission) into the cally impact the environment. Most development proposals Metropolitan Council. The Metropolitan Council coordi- that require some type of government approval are subject to nates regional policy, services, and investments to provide environment review. Examples of projects that are eligible transit service, wastewater treatment, community plan- for California Environment Quality Act review include the ning, population forecasting, affordable housing, and parks enactment of zoning ordinances, adoption of a general plan, planning. issuance of conditional use permits, or approval of tentative subdivision maps. Omnitrans was involved in the environ- mental review process for the Preserve to ensure that future Successful Projects transit needs would not be "developed-out" of the rapidly growing area. Midtown Exchange The Preserve, proposed for development in the city of Midtown Exchange is the site of the former Sears property, Chino, is part of a larger-scale greenfield development. The located at Lake Street and Chicago Avenue in Minneapolis. city of Ontario, northeast of Chino, has development plans Since Sears closed its doors in 1994, neighborhood groups, for vacant land adjacent to the Preserve. The cities of Chino local government, and private-sector leaders have worked and Ontario each developed land use Specific Plans for their together to restore the site as a vibrant, mixed-use urban developments that were intended to promote transit use. hub. When completed, the Midtown Exchange will contain However, the cities recognized that, despite good intentions, rental apartments, condominiums, and town homes; the the Specific Plans were deficient. To address this, Chino and headquarters of Allina Hospitals and Clinics; a Hennepin Ontario undertook a joint effort with Omnitrans to address County service center; a new Sheraton hotel; and the Mid- transit service design, funding, and land use for all the new town Global Market. The Global Market will be the city's communities proposed for development. The effort culmi- largest public market. The community adjacent to Midtown nated in the June 2005 publication of the Community Based Exchange is expected to support the Global Market in large Transportation Plan (CBTP). The CBTP analyzed transit numbers because the market's retail mix was chosen with plans within the Preserve and neighboring communities and the neighborhood's ethnic make-up in mind. As of January recommended changes to the operating details prepared in 2006, the office space was occupied and residents had the Specific Plans. The CBTP builds on the transit right-of- begun to move in. The Global Market is expected to open way provided for in the Preserve Specific Plan. It expands the in spring 2006. utility of the right-of-way by recommending additional bus routes to serve the Preserve's community core, linking the As part of the Midtown Exchange development, the city Preserve to neighboring communities. The CBTP is a good of Minneapolis and Metro Transit collaborated on planning example of interagency cooperation, where two cities and the a new transit facility within the development. The new tran- transit authority jointly developed a plan to benefit future res- sit facility solved many problems associated with the con- idents. The plan transcends municipal borders and integrates nection of two major bus routes at this intersection. Before proposed new services with an existing network. As the area the development of Midtown Exchange, the two routes made develops, the need for transit service will grow. Omnitrans service stops on the street outside of the Sears complex, and and the cities of Chino and Ontario will monitor growth and transfers were made between the bus stops on the four street implement services as necessary. corners. This intersection is one of the busiest in the system,
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23 FIGURE 8 Rendering of transit center in Midtown Exchange. (Courtesy: Metro Transit, Minnesota.) with many passengers transferring at this location. The amount of space available at one of the bus stops was insuf- ficient for the large number of passengers who used that stop. To remedy the situation, one of the bus stops was split into two stops, creating a near-side stop and a far-side stop in the same direction. The sheer number of passengers using this FIGURE 10 Victoria Crossing development. (Courtesy: Metro intersection provided the impetus to design a new transfer Transit, Minnesota.) terminal (see Figure 8). new customers, and ridership on the two routes serving the The transit center, which began operations on March 1, development is expected to increase (see Figure 9). 2006, consolidates all five bus stops and makes transfers between the two bus routes more convenient. The amount of space for waiting customers has been expanded and cus- Victoria Crossing tomer amenities are much improved. Transfers between routes are safer and waiting customers are more protected Victoria Crossing is located at Grand and Victoria Streets from the possibility of street crime. The facility provides in the city of St. Paul (see Figure 10). It is an infill devel- adequate space for buses and frees up space at the intersec- opment composed of a collection of small shops and spe- tion for turn lanes and additional street parking. The devel- cialty stores anchoring the 100-plus other stores along opment also provides access to a large number of potential Grand Avenue's 26 blocks. The city and Metro Transit FIGURE 9 Midtown Exchange transit center. (Courtesy: Metro Transit, Minnesota.)