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New BRT line to run on Chicago Avenue on the drawing board

Photo: Metro Transit's A-Line makes a stop along Snelling Avenue in St. Paul

This week the Drive told you about how plans for the new bus rapid transit (BRT) line on Penn Avenue are progressing. On Thursday, Metro Transit will share its plans for another BRT line that is in the works.

The transit agency will hold an open house for the D-Line, which would run on Chicago Avenue in south Minneapolis and along Fremont Avenue in north Minneapolis. The line connecting the Brooklyn Center Transit Center with downtown Minneapolis and the Mall of America would largely replace Route 5, one of the system's busiest lines. Each weekday, Route 5 provides about 19,000 rides.

The open house will be held from 5 to  7 p.m. at the Pearl Park Recreation Center, 414 E. Diamond Lake Road in south Minneapolis.

BRT lines use large buses that operate much like light-rail trains. They run on city streets but stop only at stations and platforms about every half mile apart. Riders pay fares at machines on the platform and can board or exit buses through the front or back doors.

The goal is to speed up trips with fewer stops and faster boarding, Metro Transit said.

BRT could help on-time performance along the corridor where during rush hour local Metro Transit buses carry 20 percent of people moving through the corridor and often run late. Metro Transit says trips could be up to 20 percent faster than they are now.

Route 5 buses make 126 northbound trips and 121 southbound tips. During peak periods, there are as many as 23 buses on the line.

There are still plenty of details to be worked out, including where to place stations between 46th Street and 56th Street on Chicago Avenue. Riders can expect one or two stations in this stretch, Metro Transit said.

The D-Line would be the area's third BRT Line. The first, A Line on Snelling Avenue, Ford Parkway and 46th Street was the first region’s arterial rapid bus line. It opened on June 11, 2016. Planning for the new C-Line on Penn Avenue is ongoing. 

Planning for the D-Line will continue through the end of the year. Station design would be carried out in 2018 and 2019 and construction would begin in 2020 or 2021, pending full project funding, the agency said.

Watch where you park; street sweeping begins Tuesday in Minneapolis

It's a big job, but starting Tuesday crews in Minneapolis will get to work on cleaning 1,000 miles of city streets.

The annual fall street sweeping means temporary "No Parking" signs will appear on blocks a minimum of 24 hours before sweepers will come through. Multiple signs with dates and times that a block will be swept will be posted. The signs, however, are small so they easily could be missed, so check nightly. 

Vehicles that are not moved will be ticketed and possibly towed, said city spokeswoman Sarah McKenzie.

In Minneapolis, the city will augment sign posting with notices on its Facebook page and Twitter. It also will send about 3,000 automated phone calls each night to residents potentially affected by the next day's sweeping and post a schedule online.

Videos in English, Spanish, Hmong and Somali also have been posted on the city's YouTube channel and will be broadcast on cable channel 14.

Sweeping takes place between 7 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Once a street is cleaned and the "No Parking" signs have been removed, motorists can resume parking again.

The city reminds residents that pushing leaves and grass clippings into the street thinking the city will take them away is illegal. Bag them up and take them to a compost site.

St. Paul won't get started until Oct. 23. The city has about 870 miles of streets and alleys to tackle. It's a job that takes about four weeks. Like in Minneapolis, residents can check an interactive map posted on the city's web site to find out when Elgin Pelican (that's the name of the sweeper) will roll down their block.