How should you make up your mind about Riverview

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et there’s no doubt that the options for the River- view Corridor are complicated. So far in the planning process, there are a half dozen potential combinations of route and mode. The question remains: Which of the many choices — including the do-nothing “no build” option — would offer the best improvement for the most people?

For me, the critical thing about Riverview is to look at it from the transit perspective, through the eyes
of someone riding the bus. That’s what the whole project is about. Before making up your mind, nothing replaces actually riding around on buses and trains to see what it’s really like.

For example, I believe that anyone interested in Riverview should ride the Green Line as much as possible. There’s no other way to see what rail looks and feels like, and how it changes the experience of the street. The same goes with riding on the new A-Line bus down Snelling, or existing 54 bus down West 7th. If you are at all curious about the Riverview debate, take a few hours of your time and ride the 54 to and from downtown, the airport, or the mall. Take it during rush hour, mid-day, or later at night, and see for yourself what the route is like today.

Some key questions: Is it crowded? Does it get mired in airport traffic? Is it comfortable? Would you take it to catch a flight?

(Answers are: Sometimes. Often! Sort of, depend- ing. Probably not.)

My experience riding the Green Line is the big rea- son why I support rail options for the Riverview Cor- ridor. I’m hopeful that, this time around, the planning compromises are a good fit for the unique character of West 7th Street. Unlike the University Avenue- style dedicated light-rail plan, or the historical 1980s plans for bus rapid transit that would have needlessly widened the street, a streetcar can be built so that the sidewalks and public spaces along West 7th are improved and not eroded. In my role on the Technical Advisory Committee for Riverview, I have been push- ing to make sure walkability is a high priority, and will continue to do so.

After carefully studying the issue, I believe that Riverview offers a tremendous opportunity to invest in St. Paul and to boost both pedestrian safety and transit ridership for the next generation. If we invest in high quality transit for St. Paul, I am confident that within a short time, tens of thousands of people will be using it every day. It will offer unprecedented level of freedom and mobility to people in the West 7th neighborhoods from all walks of life. It will connect the diverse parts of the neighborhood — everyone from the downtown business people to the folks living in the public housing tower — in an important new way.

So whatever your thoughts about Riverview so far, I urge my neighbors to go out and ride some of the existing transit in the city. See for yourself what it’s like to take the bus or the train to the airport or downtown. Think about people who rely on transit every day, and consider what the city might be like in ten years. Then make up your own mind about what’s best for West 7th and for the future of St. Paul.

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