The Metropolitan Council touted a growing number of building projects along existing and planned light-rail lines on Tuesday as the agency ramps up pressure on state legislators this session to pay for a portion of the Southwest line.
The council released a list of 196 projects proposed, under construction or completed around the Central Corridor — now known as the Green Line — Bottineau and Southwest lines.
This comes days after U.S. Sen. Al Franken urged the Legislature to devote $135 million to the $1.79 billion Southwest project this session — or risk losing a $895 million federal match.
Met Council Chairman Adam Duininck said surpassing $4 billion in expected private investment along the Central Corridor was the primary reason for highlighting the developments. But it doesn't hurt that it came in the middle of the legislative session.
"I think it's an important reminder to legislators, some of [whom] maybe want to question the value of transit investments, to show that it's a lot more than just paying for buses or paying for rides on trains," Duininck said. "It actually connects people to jobs and it helps to drive development."
Such development trackers can be deceiving, however.
Met Council officials said they tracked projects within a half mile of station areas. At least $2 billion of the Green Line's $4 billion total was attributed to projects in downtown Minneapolis, many of which had other forces driving them. They include the Downtown East project, the Nicollet Hotel block redevelopment, the Hennepin County Medical Center expansion and the redevelopment of Block E.
The 14 ½-mile Southwest line will run from downtown Minneapolis to Eden Prairie, with service expected to begin in 2020. About 25 projects are planned or have been completed around the Southwest line's stations, featuring about 1,975 housing units, according to the Met Council. Most of those units are in St. Louis Park.
The line has yet to generate development along its stops closer to north Minneapolis.
The Bottineau line to the northern suburbs holds more potential for the North Side, but so far the developments highlighted by the Met Council along that line have been primarily in Brooklyn Park.
Duininck said those more regional lines "didn't go down perfect routes, in my opinion, through the city of Minneapolis. But we have to make the best use of the routes that were chosen at the time, and then how do we integrate that with the rest of the transit network — whether that's additional bus service or whether that's just better bike and pedestrian access."