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Transportation in the Blake Road Neighborhood: The Uses and Needs of Residents.

Campbell, Nicole.

The Blake Road Neighborhood is a diverse community located in Hopkins, MN. Since 2005, the Blake Road Corridor Collaborative (BRCC) has been working to make improvements and engage residents in the community. During this time there have been at least 7 studies completed in the neighborhood, in addition to Blake Road being one of five Twin Cities Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) Building Sustainable Communities locations (www.tclisc.org). This neighborhood has been chosen as a LISC community and for research projects because the value and potential for positive growth and change in the community has been recognized. From both the numerous reports and anecdotal evidence, Blake Road Corridor Collaborative had learned that transportation was an issue in the neighborhood. Additionally, Blake Road will be home to a station if Southwest light rail transit (LRT)is built between Minneapolis and Eden Prairie. BRCC is already thinking about the changes andopportunities this will bring to the neighborhood.

The goal of this project was to learn how residents in Blake Road think about and make transportation choices in the community. Knowing how residents are using transportation was to be researched along with the needs and transportation concerns of residents. To research these topics a mixed-methods approach was used; a combination of short surveys, face-to-face interviews, and ayouth photo project.

Some of the results were expected, while others were more surprising. Key findings for this project include:

  • Public transit is used often in the neighborhood and is considered an asset to the neighborhood, especially for travel to downtown Minneapolis. At the same time, it’s listed as one of the top concerns of residents and does not adequately meet their needs.
  • Driving is the most convenient and preferred mode in the community. Residents were generally supportive and familiar of transit but many felt it would be difficult to live without a car.
  • Biking and walking are used for recreation and fun in the corridor. The Cedar Lake Trail and nearby Parks are important amenities to the community.
  • Blake Road is a significant feature of the neighborhood. It has some concerning issues such as unsafe crossings, fast moving traffic, and inadequate bike & pedestrian facilities.
  • Engagement in the community is important to residents and the BRCC. The BRCC community organizer and select apartment buildings work to connect residents and residents were found to be satisfied with their efforts. Residents have excellent ideas on how to continue this work.

Due to the broad nature of transportation, many recommendations could be made for improvements in Blake Road. Examples of recommendations include:

  • Continue developing a resident advisory group as an offshoot of the BRCC
  • Adopt the Trusted Advocate model used in St. Paul, MN
  • Engage Metro Transit in a transit study now, and/or develop a local circulator
  • Focus on off-street biking and walking connections to neighborhood parks and Cedar Lake Trail
  • Long Term recommendations include adopting transit oriented development (TOD) principles, improving mobility within the neighborhood, and adopting Complete Streets principles along Blake Road.

The results and recommendations of this study will be used by the BRCC to engage resident and agencies interested in improving transportation within the neighborhood. This research, along with future research around the Southwest LRT, will help to guide the community in improving transportation for all users.

Publication date: 
Conducted on behalf of Blake Road Corridor Collaborative. Supported by Neighborhood Partnerships for Community Research (NPCR), a program of the Center for Urban and Regional Affairs (CURA) at the University of Minnesota.
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