Keeping it Safe on the Corridor

Courtesy of the Metropolitan Council

Shoua Lee knows the Central Corridor like the back of her hand. She grew up in Rondo and other St. Paul neighborhoods, after her family relocated from Laos to the United States in the mid-1980s.

As a senior community outreach coordinator for the light rail project, she works with community groups to keep business owners and residents updated on the project. With the project moving from the construction stage to the testing stage, Lee and project colleagues have launched a safety campaign to educate the public on safe practices around light rail.

“The Central Corridor, or Green Line, as it is now called, is different than the Hiawatha or Blue Line,” said Lee. “Whereas much of the Blue Line travels in the right of way that parallels the street, the Green Line is right in the middle of the roadway.”

One of the biggest challenges is educating the public about mid-block crossings along University Avenue. “We need motorists to understand that if they see a pedestrian at a mid-block crosswalk, they must stop to allow that person to safely cross the street,” said Lee.

Motorists and pedestrians also will notice changes in the operation of traffic lights. At a typical intersection, a traffic light automatically triggers a walk light enabling the pedestrian to cross the street. But in this setting, the pedestrian must press a button on the signal to get a walk light.

“By making the signal pedestrian-activated, automobile and light rail vehicles won’t have to stop when pedestrians are not present,” added Lee.

The safety campaign also will educate the public on new traffic signs. “In visiting with staff from other light rail systems around the country, we have learned best practices of what has worked in their communities,” she said.

Lee and her colleagues from Metro Transit have already started meeting with community organizations to explain safety procedures around light rail stations and track. Her goal is to conduct 100 community presentations with both adult and youth audiences before the light rail test runs begin in fall 2013.

“Safety is really a shared responsibility,” Lee adds. “We can place safety posters along the corridor and speak to countless groups, but pedestrians and motorists also must practice safe habits as we learn to successfully co-exist with light rail.”

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