Transportation notebook

Airport noise settlement finalized

The battle between residents of Minneapolis and the Metropolitan Airports Commission (MAC) is finally over.

On Jan. 15, Judge Stephen Aldrich ruled that a $127 million settlement between the MAC and the cities of Minneapolis, Eagan and Richfield is fair and reasonable. Additionally, those who participated in a separate class action lawsuit brought by residents against the MAC will be covered under the cities’ settlement.

The money will go toward providing noise-mitigation benefits, such as central air conditioning, insulation and new windows, to roughly 9,000 homeowners who live near the airport.

Most eligible Southwest residents won’t receive the improvements for a few years, as under the settlement terms, the MAC has until Dec. 1, 2012 to complete the installations. Homeowners in South Minneapolis and Richfield will get the products first.

To determine your home’s eligibility, visit macnoise.com/maps and enter your address into the MAC’s interactive map.


Minneapolis No. 2 in commuters who bike

New U.S. Census numbers indicate that in 2006, Minneapolis had some of the highest numbers of residents biking, walking and taking transit to work.

Of 50 large cities, Minneapolis had the second highest number of bicyclists, or 2.5 percent of the population. The national average is 0.4 percent, with Portland, Ore., home to the highest number.

The number of people walking to work rose from 5.8 percent in 2005 to 7.1 percent in 2006, making Minneapolis eighth in the
nation.

Additionally, 13.2 percent of residents took public transit to work, putting Minneapolis in 11th place.


Keeping sidewalks safe

According to Minneapolis’ city ordinances, all homeowners are required to remove snow and ice from the sidewalks in front of their houses within 24 hours of a snowfall. Apartment building and business owners must clear sidewalks within four daytime hours. Residents are encouraged to call 311 if they spot a sidewalk that hasn’t been shoveled or de-iced, and the city will come out, shovel the path and ticket the owner. It’s also illegal to move snow onto the street or in alleys.

Seniors or those with disabilities can call 673-3004 for a list of community groups that will clear walkways for a fee.

Free sidewalk sand is available 24 hours a day at the city’s maintenance facility at 6036 Harriet Ave. S.


Uptown Small Area Plan

On Jan. 14, the Planning Commission voted to adopt the Uptown Small Area Plan, which would direct land use in the area for years to come.

The project, which has been in the works for almost two years, breaks Uptown into six different types of areas, such as neighborhoods, the Hennepin Avenue Commercial Corridor and West Lake Street Live/Work area. If the plan goes though, it would define building height maximums, indicate which areas should be commercial, residential and mixed use, suggest sidewalk and street widths, and support public transit in the greenway, among other ideas.

The project will head to the City Council’s Zoning and Planning Committee next and, if approved, go before the full Council.


Central Corridor LRT facing financial woes

The Metropolitan Council has until the end of February to decide which route the Central Corridor Light Rail Transit (LRT) will take through St. Paul and the University of Minnesota.

Preliminary engineering for the 11-mile line that would connect downtown Minneapolis with downtown St. Paul will begin once the Council reaches a decision. It must be complete by September for the Council to seek permission from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) to enter the final design phase.

In 2009, the FTA will decide whether to award federal matching funds for the project.

"We cannot afford to build this project unless the federal government pays half the cost," said
Peter Bell, chair of the Met Council, in a prepared statement. "And the federal government won’t partner with us unless we reduce the cost to about $840 million and meet their cost-effectiveness
requirements."

But the project cost has only increased in recent months — from $932 million to $990 million — due to the FTA’s request that contingency funds be built into the
budget.

According to project documents, the cost would swell to $1.25 billion if all of the features stakeholders have proposed were included.

In Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s 2008 bonding recommendations, released Jan. 15, the Central Corridor project would receive $70,000 in general obligation bonds, half of the requested amount.


LED traffic signals

For the past 10 years, the city’s Public Works department has been switching all traffic signals in the city from incandescent lights to Light Emitting Diode (LED) lights, which are more energy efficient. The project is finally nearing completion and, according to city documents, Minneapolis has saved nearly $2.2 million in energy costs and reduced its carbon dioxide output by 7,285 tons.

Contact Mary O’Regan at [email protected]