The major point of contention in the Hennepin Avenue reconstruction debate is whether the street gets a full-time bus lane or if that lane should spend 20 hours per day as car parking. On June 16, the City Council approved a full-time bus lane. A day later, Mayor Frey vetoed. This Thursday there’s a chance for the City Council to override that veto.
The street currently has partial and part-time lanes — a big hit when they were first installed as a pilot four years ago. This success inspired the city to put in full-time lanes on 7th Street to serve the C Line BRT. The timing of the Hennepin reconstruction is fortuitous: the street reopening in 2026 will coincide with the opening of a $60 million transit upgrade, the E Line BRT.
The E Line is funded largely by the state, which is why all 15 Minneapolis members of the Minnesota House and Senate have written to the Mayor and City Council urging them to implement full-time lanes. The legislators’ letter cites an earlier request from Metro Transit, and emphasizes the importance of full-time lanes to the success of the E Line.
The reason I go into all this history is so you can understand why my head exploded after reading the email newsletter Ward 7 Council Member Lisa Goodman sent to her constituents justifying her vote against a full-time lane:
“As much as we would like to believe that we have a transit system that works for most users we simply do not right now and with the gridlock with regards to infrastructure investment at the state legislature it doesn’t seem that’s going to be a fulfilled vision in the next decade either.”
Goodman explains her efforts to hobble an already-funded transit project by bemoaning a lack of funding for successful transit. She is the ultimate concern troll. Ward 13 Council Member Linea Palmisano is using similar rhetoric: “we don’t control the Met Council’s funding priorities.”
With so many of our elected officials determined to spread confusion, I should reiterate: the E Line bus rapid transit project is happening, it’s been funded, it will provide all day service, and will greatly increase ridership on a high ridership corridor — if we give it room to be successful and don’t tie it up in traffic.
In another brain-twisting attempt to mislead her constituents, Goodman says “perhaps most concerning is the last minute addition” of full-time bus lanes when the City Council approved the layout. This wasn’t a last minute addition. For a year and a half, the only options presented to the public included full-time bus lanes. The project website still contains language explaining why full-time bus lanes are important:
“Similar to other arterial BRT routes, ridership would be expected to grow 25 to 35 percent with the E Line service and much of the increased ridership occurs outside the peak hours, making fulltime transit lanes important.”
Goodman should know she’s lying because her best friend, Margaret Anderson Kelliher, is Mayor Frey’s newly appointed Public Works Director, who arrived at the last minute to axe the full time bus lane recommended by the city’s professional staff.
Metro Transit’s highest ridership routes are the A line and C line — both BRT. Making bus operations better means more riders. So you have to wonder why Jacob Frey, Lisa Goodman, and Margaret Anderson Kelliher — people who will tell you they support transit — are so determined to get in the way of the E Line’s success on Hennepin.