Ken Fletcher is a transit enthusiast from St. Paul, Minnesota. During the 1970s, Fletcher took an interest in the concept of light rail transit systems. At the time such systems were found in many European cities but were operating in only a few places in the United States and Canada. Fletcher felt the idea had potential in the Twin Cities as a cost-effective mass transit solution.
In 1976 Fletcher prepared a report for the Hiawatha Avenue Citizens Advisory Committee advocating for a light rail line along Hiawatha Avenue in Minneapolis. Fletcher’s proposal included a suggested route map, mockups of stations and crossings, financial estimates and comparisons to light rail projects then underway in other cities. Fletcher’s proposal also suggested that potential for further light rail development existed along the University Avenue corridor and the Southwest Corridor.
Though light rail in Minneapolis wouldn’t become a reality for another 25 years, many elements of Fletcher’s plan were manifested in the Hiawatha Line that was eventually constructed including the general route he suggested, the placement of stations along the line and running the system underground at the airport. With work now underway on the Central Corridor and the Southwest Corridor as well, Fletcher’s original plan seems all the more prescient.
-Guest post from our excellent volunteer, Nick.