What do the proposed Southwest light rail stops in Minneapolis look like today?

That was the question the MPLS blog aimed to answer one recent afternoon on a bike tour of the five proposed Minneapolis stops within city limits. Finding the stops can be a challenge, since all but one of them are located in undeveloped areas likely not familiar to most transit riders.

The city recently negotiated a deal with the Metropolitan Council to spend about $30 million on improving access to the Minneapolis stations. The city has until August 30 to vote on the $1.6 billion Southwest route.

When the deal was announced, council member Elizabeth Glidden said the stations are in "challenging locations" because they are hard to access. "That is one of the reasons why this has been a bit of a challenging route for Minneapolis," Glidden said.

The city's transit-oriented development director, David Frank, sees opportunities to build out the station areas. He observed that the lack of existing development at most of the Minneapolis stops likely means fewer neighborhood debates over height, density and traffic when projects are proposed.

"On the other hand, you need a special kind of developer and a special kind of resident or office user to say, 'Sure I'll be the first one to go in here,' with no assurance that the rest of the neighborhood-to-be will follow," Frank said.

Get a feel for each stop in the interactive below, featuring 360-degree panoramas, annotated maps, photo galleries and descriptions of the station areas.

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