A New and Improved Transit Hub for Downtown Minneapolis
Monday, Hennepin County breaks ground on “The Interchange,” a central, multi-modal transportation hub and community gathering space in downtown Minneapolis, on the north side of Target Field. The project is slated to open in 2014, just before the Central Corridor LRT.
Already a hub for the Hiawatha LRT and the Northstar Commuter Rail Network, the area is expected to get much busier once the Central Corridor LRT and Southwest LRT in 2018 begin running.
Planners are seeking to make the Interchange a new destination in downtown Minneapolis, a home for both commercial and cultural activities. The plan includes spaces for neighborhood restaurants and bars, street vendors, a large grassy space, called the “Great Lawn,” that can be used for concerts, festivals, and fairs, and an informal seating area and amphitheater called “The Cascade.”
Along with seeking to become a destination in downtown Minneapolis, the project is also attempting to relieve traffic in the area. The new development gives light rail passengers a place to hang out or grab a cup of coffee while waiting for their train, rather than having to loiter on the platform.
“It will be like Grand Central Station. A little disaggregated, maybe, but, yeah, Grand Central Station,” Peter McLaughlin, chairman of the Regional Railroad Authority and a Hennepin County commissioner, said in a MinnPost article.
Grand Central is just one of many examples of similar transit hubs across the country, most of which have positively impacted their destinations, helping to encourage more transit oriented development and neighborhood revitalization. In Portland the Pioneer Courthouse Square has been dubbed Portland’s “Living Room,” and in Pittsburgh the newly revitalized Historic Market Square has reinvigorated the downtown.
The Interchange is a smart move on the part of Hennepin County and a logical step forward in creating a more sustainable downtown. The project will lead to increased downtown investment and will likely increase public transit ridership, both of which are good for the future of the city and the entire metro area.