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Future expanded rail service threatens Cedar Lake Bike Trail

The Cedar Lake Bike Trail could be squeezed out of the transit trench between Target Field and Washington Avenue unless Hennepin County and the developer of a proposed apartment project can reach agreement. 

Both sides have been in negotiations this spring and Thursday asked the Minneapolis City Council Zoning and Planning Committee for two more weeks to see if agreement can be reached.

The proposed Dock Street Apartments at 333 Washington Ave. N. would abut the transit trench and offer 185 rental units and commercial space. The developer, Hines Northstar Crossings, has plans that include one bike rack for each rental unit and facilities for bike storage.

Hennepin County, which is responsible for the Cedar Lake Trail and serves as the Regional Railroad Authority, is concerned that future expansion of rail service would leave no room for the bike trail. Making the trench wider after construction of the Dock Street Apartments would not be possible.

Two weeks ago Hennepin County and Hines asked for two more weeks to continue talks. On Thursday they asked again for two more weeks to continue negotiations.

“We have been negotiating in good faith and we want to continue good faith negotiations,” said Steve Luthman of Hines, who expressed some frustration that the bar seemed to be raising higher and higher and the rules re-written.  “But we are more than happy to sit down and roll up our sleeves,” he added.

“The single most important thing is keeping the bike trail,” said Council Member Lisa Goodman, to which her colleagues concurred. The committee approved a two-week delay to allow for continued negotiations.

“This is one of the premier bike trails in the United States,” said Hennepin County Commissioner Peter McLaughlin after the meeting. He expects more development along the transit trench in the future, which is why he thinks it’s important to “get it right now.”

“Lets lay the groundwork now for the three things we believe in: development, the bike trail and rail in the future,” said McLaughlin, who is optimistic about reaching an agreement with the developer. “We think there’s a solution.”

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Comments (2)

  1. Submitted by Matthew Steele on 04/20/2012 - 12:44 pm.

    Dock Street threat

    The Hines proposal is great by itself, but allowing to be developed as proposed makes us lose out on a huge opportunity for expanded rail in the trench. A true downtown rail station serving commuter lines, a regional network, and high speed rail may necessitate a dozen or more platforms in the next 50 years. We have a grade-separated trench with rails in it already, meaning no conflicts with the street grid and fewer environmental reviews using an existing corridor.

    Preserve the grade-separated sub-level for transit platform and station use, and get Hines to build on air rights above. Not only does this prevent costly rework in the future, but it enhances vibrancy of the street life in the Warehouse District and North Loop instead of creating competing separate grades of street activity.

  2. Submitted by Janne Flisrand on 04/21/2012 - 12:07 pm.

    trail critical piece of trail system

    That last segment of the Cedar Lake Trail is a critical piece of the infrastructure. Downtown — a generally unpleasant place to ride — has long kept me from riding from my Uptown home to near Northeast destinations. Planning a happy hour? Why cross Downtown? Film festival? Well, I’d like to go, but it would require biking across Downtown.

    Now that the trail is complete, I have a pleasant (despite that it’s longer) way to get to NE – and even the Guthrie and other Downtown destinations on the river. That trail segment has singlehandedly increased use of the Cedar Lake trail by connecting a troublesome gap in the system that was VERY difficult to get past before. (Think of the one-ways, the freeway ramps, the very wide streets with heavy traffic.)

    It is critical to preserve the trail AND future rail options. If Hines wants a bicycle-friendly development, I’d hope they see they have as much motivation to preserve the trail as anyone.

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