Since 2013, the Blue Line Coalition has been working together to make sure government leaders recognize the Blue Line extension project is a racial justice and regional equity issue and that the most directly impacted and marginalized communities must receive the biggest benefits from the massive public investment.
We believe in this project extending the Blue Line light rail from Minneapolis to Brooklyn Park because Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) communities have a right to quality transit projects and safety improvements.
But we also know that, even with the best of stated intentions, light rail projects in the Twin Cities and nationwide have pushed the most vulnerable people out of their homes and businesses — over and over and over again. We must stop that cycle of displacement with a different planning approach — one that doesn’t aspire to equitable outcomes but takes the intentional steps at the appropriate time to achieve a different result.
In April, Hennepin County and the Metropolitan Council released their proposed Route Modification Plan, the latest step in a year’s long process and the last step before the project is essentially approved. But once again there are only loose commitments to address community concerns — no solid timeline for the passage of essential protections and community investments before the onslaught of development and displacement pressures begin.
We have seen this before. Years before the train was supposed to break ground, the previously proposed route through Harrison Neighborhood brought development that was unaffordable to local residents and pushed people out. It is incumbent on the project leaders to identify a “community-supported route.”
We say unequivocally that our community does NOT support this route and rejects any further project planning until:
- Clearly communicated concerns around gentrification are addressed first — not left to 2023 or beyond following the conclusion of a county work group
- Strong anti-displacement policies are in place — not simply proposed for future adoption without any assurance that those protections will materialize
- A plan with funding and specific strategies outlined by Harrison Neighborhood Association is in place to repair the harm to the Harrison community — not simply discussed as an unfortunate consequence of previous route planning
- Significant financial resources are secured to ensure increased ownership and stability for marginalized businesses and residents — not an unmet aspiration left to the political will of future leaders
This is the moment that we can choose to make bold decisions that make this project an example of justice and equity for cities across the nation. We will continue to withhold our support until we, as a community, can be assured that this project will not displace us.