Did you know Minneapolis and St. Paul came into existence and grew up largely independent of each other? They are truly twins, born because of the same Mississippi River but for different reasons (St. Paul for river trade and Minneapolis for water-powered mills). This is one of the reasons why the two cities have such distinctly different cultures. Their two downtowns just happen to be a short drive apart; but soon they will be bound by light-rail as well.
The power of the light-rail had lost its appeal for a short while, but in the recession it has proven itself a winner. It’s a modern, smooth and appealing option for tourists and commuters alike. There is little doubt it has had a part in perpetuating success at the Mall of America (which keeps expanding) and in downtown Minneapolis. Soon it will have a central slice of Minnesota’s second largest city added to its network (I could have said something about connecting the top three cities, but Bloomington keeps getting knocked down the population totem pole by Rochester and Duluth).
The Green Line, which will connect the cities along the Central Corridor, is undergoing a few last minute repairs. These repairs might slow up some St. Paul traffic but shouldn’t interrupt the much anticipated June 14th commencement of this historic coupling (only test trains have traveled the rails thus far).
One of the surprising things to out-of-staters is that Minneapolitans and St. Paulites spend weeks and months on end never going to the other side of the river (we often don’t act like the cities are just one big metropolis); we’re more tempted by our own bars, restaurants, events and neighboring suburbs. Could the Green Line change the dynamics? Could it make the cities more fluid, less independent, less different from one another?
There is no clear answer. The 11-mile, $957 million dollar project is going to make significant change. The Met Council prediction of 40,000 passengers per weekday on the Green Line by 2030 doesn’t illuminate any powerful details on what this means for Minnesota’s story; but I (at least) am excited.
2014 should continue to be a memorable year!
Photos via: MetroCouncil.org