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Franklin said that because the route, which links the downtowns and runs largely along University Avenue, is already served by buses, police are familiar with many of the potential problems that could surface.
“The Green Line will operate in what is already the busiest east-west transit corridor in the state,” said Metro Transit Police Chief John Harrington, adding that he doesn’t expect to see “a significant increase” in crime.
While ensuring passenger safety is a top priority, officers have also been busy in recent weeks schooling motorists and pedestrians to watch out for the passing trains.
Driving along University Avenue in his orange Dodge Charger during a late afternoon shift, St. Paul traffic enforcement officer Scott Braski said he is more worried about educating people than citing them.
“They just think cars,” he said. “They’re not thinking trains.”
When he isn’t pulling over speeding motorists, Braski visits bus stops to pass out safety brochures to riders and to talk with those he spots violating safety rules around the rail line to keep them from making dangerous mistakes.
“I don’t want you to be a hood ornament,” he warned several teenagers who crossed the tracks outside a designated crossing area.
Last month, Metro Transit and St. Paul police launched an education and enforcement campaign to make sure pedestrians and drivers stay safe near the line. Despite the campaign, several vehicles have already struck test trains.
And with some traffic being diverted from University Avenue to make way for light rail, police are seeing more motorists speeding or running stops signs in the surrounding neighborhoods, Iovino said.
Still, with three weeks to go before the Green Line opens, Iovino is confident officers will be ready.
“We feel we’ve had a lot of practical exercises and a lot of meetings and discussions,” he said. But, he added, “A lot of this is unknown.”
Nicole Norfleet • 612-673-4495