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Metropolitan Council Vice Chair Reva Chamblis anticipates economic boost will accompany METRO Blue Line Extension

In addition to access to state-of-the-art public transportation, the proposed METRO Blue Line Extension will offer North Minneapolis and the northwest suburbs “opportunities for prosperity that we may not see for another generation.”


That’s the assessment of Metropolitan Council Vice Chair Reva Chamblis, who has spent years being closely involved in the vision and practical planning for completing the Blue Line and connecting it to the metro-wide light rail system.


The planned extension will lay 13.4 miles of new track. When completed in 2030, the METRO Blue Line Extension will leave the Target Field station downtown and travel through North Minneapolis, Robbinsdale, Crystal and Brooklyn Park.


Council Member Chamblis, who lives in Brooklyn Park, is unabashedly bullish on the METRO Blue Line Extension. She noted that the multi-billion dollar transportation investment is exactly the sort of development that has bypassed lower income neighborhoods in the past and denied them commercial and economic growth that accompanies such development.


“Many under-served and under-represented, particularly the historical African American community, have been excluded from the benefits of big infrastructure projects. I want to make sure we can maximize benefits on behalf of the communities that they are intending to serve,” said Chamblis.


The longtime community leader and Met Council District 2 representative, Chamblis has been reviewing the Met Council’s transportation research for years. She anticipates that the METRO Blue Line Extension will prompt local expansion nearby its tracks.


“There will be a lot of transit-oriented development within six blocks of either side of the line. Those are big opportunities; we found there tends to be more jobs around these commercial districts where the light rail is going to be located,” she said. “Something better is coming down the line.”


Chamblis has spent hours listening to the priorities of people living and working along the proposed route. She has connected with local residents and business owners who served on an Anti-Displacement Work Group, which spent 18 months crafting their recommendations.


She pointed out that the Blue Line Extension designers have engaged with the community in ways that previous planners did not.


“Policy makers have acknowledged that the way these big projects were built in the past were not as inclusive as they should have been. We’re doing things differently this time by making sure we get the voice of various communities,” she said.


The Blue Line Corridor is the part of the metro area where people own the fewest numbers of cars, making them the most public transit-dependent. Chamblis pointed out that the completion of the light rail extension will spur enhancement of other public transportation options that will benefit the community through Bus Rapid Transit and expansion of other existing bus lines.


“We will be able to support transportation getting to the Blue Line Extension especially for many of the cities north of Minneapolis don’t have good access to transportation,” she said. “With this Blue Line project they will have access whether they want to get to a job, or a grocery store  or their church. We are expecting those travel services to improve.”


Several major milestones are ahead for the METRO Blue Line Extension. Later this year, the environmental reviews are expected and public comments will be sought. Meanwhile, cities along the route will start the municipal consent process to give local feedback on the design elements.


Chamblis is eager to keep the project moving ahead, already anticipating “bustling businesses,” new housing options and better access to jobs for the community.


“I’m a positive person who is optimistic about looking at what is in front of us and maximizing the opportunity,” Chamblis said.


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