A couple of weeks ago, I had the chance to attend a National League of Cities (NLC) Staff Workshop in Denver, CO. Since I live in Kalamazoo, I figured I’d fly out of the local airport to Minneapolis/St. Paul and catch a connection there.
On our approach into Minneapolis/St. Paul, I was able to see the Metrodome (maybe the Tigers will get another win there sometime this year) and the I35W bridge that collapsed last year. They are in the middle of building the new bridge that will replace it. I had a chance research the new bridge and noticed the following in the FAQ section of the Minnesota Department of Transportation’s website (http://projects.dot.state.mn.us/35wbridge/index.html):
The new bridge will be Light Rail Transit-ready. The design includes 14 foot wide shoulder lanes that allow for future development, including possibly adding light rail, dedicated bus lanes, or additional lanes of traffic.
There is an important lesson that we can learn here. As we face a transformation in Michigan’s transportation system, a transformation that is going to be spurred by the fact we must do something to adequately fund the system, we should take the most of the opportunity to bring in new technologies and ideas into the system – specifically transit opportunities. Rebuilding a bridge and keeping in transit capable in the midst of a tragedy is very forward thinking. Road agencies and transit systems at all levels are going to need this type of thinking in the months and years to come.
On a quick side note on the MSP airport – the Wolfgang Puck Express is highly recommended as you spend time between connecting flights!