France Avenue chosen for E Line

planned E Line bus rapid transit
The planned E Line bus rapid transit would connect Southdale Center to the University of Minnesota via France and Hennepin avenues in Southwest. Submitted image

Metro Transit planners have decided to route the future E Line bus rapid transit (BRT) along France Avenue in Southwest Minneapolis.

The E Line would largely replace current Route 6 services along Hennepin Avenue, connecting Southdale Center to the University of Minnesota via Uptown and Downtown. Planners had been deciding between routing the line along Xerxes or France avenues in Southwest.

“The real distinguisher is major destinations along France Avenue,” said Kyle O’Donnell Burrows, project manager for the E Line.

The France Avenue alignment allows for stops at hubs like 44th & France, 50th & France and Fairview Southdale Hospital, a major employment and health center. Other potential stop locations include 47th & France, to connect with Southwest High School, said O’Donnell Burrows. Currently, Metro Transit is soliciting feedback on potential stops through events like a Nov. 21 open house at Pershing Recreation Center in Fulton. Metro Transit has an interactive webpage (tinyurl.com/e-line-metro) where people can make suggestions at specific points on the street.

In Southwest Minneapolis, the E Line will run along Hennepin Avenue through Uptown to West 36th Street, using Richfield Road, Sheridan Avenue and West 44th Street to reach France Avenue. Plans call for crossing the Mississippi River on Hennepin and taking University Avenue through Marcy Holmes to connect to the University of Minnesota.

BRT service, planners say, increases speed and comfort of bus service with more developed stations farther apart than standard stops, payment before boarding (at either the front or middle of the bus) and the ability for buses to communicate with traffic signals to get elongated or faster green lights at key intersections. Buses run about every 10 minutes, decreasing the need to plan trips in advance.

Pending full funding, the E Line will be constructed in 2023.

Metro Transit is in the process of building out its arterial BRT network, which started with the A Line along Snelling Avenue in St. Paul. This summer, the C Line began service connecting Brooklyn Center to Downtown via Penn Avenue in North Minneapolis. Other planned BRT service includes the B Line, which would run along Lake Street and Marshall Avenue, and the D Line, which would connect Brooklyn Center to Bloomington via Chicago Avenue.