U of M studies affordability impact of proposed Minneapolis light rail extension

LRT in downtown Minneapolis
Passengers get off the light rail in downtown Minneapolis on Friday, May 16, 2014.
Caroline Yang For MPR News

The University of Minnesota’s Center for Urban and Regional Affairs is studying the impacts on housing and affordability of a possible extension of the Blue Line light rail through north Minneapolis and into the suburbs. The project is also known as the Bottineau Line.

Andrew Hazzard is a reporter for Sahan Journal, a digital news organization serving immigrants and people of color in Minnesota. He told host Cathy Wurzer why some communities are concerned about the extension.

“This line is essentially an endless stream of controversy and complications,” Hazzard said.

The Blue Line Extension that’s currently proposed would depart from Target Field in downtown Minneapolis and run north through North Minneapolis to the northwest suburbs, terminating in Brooklyn Park. Plans for different routes have fallen apart in the past.

Hazzard said there’s a demonstrable need for more transit to help people get around along the extension and to reduce emissions. At the same time, some residents of neighborhoods along the extension are concerned that the new line could bring gentrification.

Some residents of the Harrison neighborhood, which was along a previous iteration of the extension, have seen their rents rise by $200 per month due to investments along the old route, Hazzard said.

Regardless of how far the project gets, actual construction is likely a long way off. Hazzard said ground probably will not be broken either way until 2024.

Use the audio player above to listen to the full conversation.

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