A few years ago, on a brutally-cold winter night, I was standing at a bus stop on University Avenue at Oxford with a bag of groceries. An older – or older-looking – guy, wobbling from a day of drinking, wobbled around on the sidewalk behind me (It was 7PM, although dark as midnight in mid-January). The guy wasn’t feeling the cold. He was muttering something under his breath. He seemed agitated. I kept my guard up.
I heard a car engine accelerate behind me – fast. I turned, and saw a Saint Paul police cruiser, pouring on the steam and pulling across two lanes of traffic and heading straight toward the bus stop.
I noticed the drunk guy had started to amble north up Oxford Steet.
The cops slammed on the brakes and hit the whoopie lights just as they pulled around onto Oxford and squalled to a hard stop. The two cops bailed out, fast, and pulled their clubs as they raced toward the old guy. They took him down, hard.
Two more units pulled up in the next thirty seconds or so. Whoopie lights blazing, the corner felt warmer all of a sudden.
This being University, the 16 and 50 buses were both late – so I watched as the cops cuffed the guy, bundled him into the first cruiser, and drove away. Being a good blogger, I asked one of the cops what was up.
The cop motioned toward a bar further down University. “He beat a guy with a chair. Put him in the hospital, probably in critical condition”.
They took off.
And still I waited for the 16.
I thought about this when I got an email from Joe Doakes this morning:
These are the prospective riders of the Light Rail.
The link is to a piece in the PiPress about a shooting on Uni:
A man was injured in a shooting at a University Avenue bus stop in St. Paul on Thursday evening, and police believe there were multiple witnesses who have yet to come forward.
The victim, who was taken to Regions Hospital with a gunshot wound to his leg, was at a bus stop at the southeast corner of University Avenue and Dale Street when he was shot about 6:45 p.m…Anyone with information should call St. Paul police at 651-266-5650.
According to the story, three guys including the shooter crossed Dale Street, opened fire as cars sat at the light, and hit the victim. They helpfully point out that the cops don’t believe it was a random shooting.
Back to Doakes:
Do you still think people will come from Woodbury to ride that train?
And if they don’t, who will shop at the newly renovated stores?
That’s always been my big question about the Central Corridor – especially about the choice to make it a “Light Rail” train rather than a trolley which, if you just have to have a freaking train, makes a lot more sense. “Light Rail” is for people who whiz through the neighborhiood on their way from one downtown, or one of the colleges, to the other. It’s not people going from WalMart or Rainbow with a bag of groceries who are trying to get down to Grotto for the four block walk to their house. It is designed, scaled, and stationed to carry people through the Midway and Frogtown with as little interaction with the neighborhood as possible.
And the more I look at this boondoggle, the more fanciful – almost Jetsons-like – the “development” scenarios for the stretch between Cleveland and the Capitol seem. What – someone en route from their legislative assistant job at the Capitol to their apaartment on Washington is going to stop at UniDale for a mocha?
The train is going to largely cut the north side of the street off from the south side. What does that do to neighborhoods that are, as urban planners euphemize, “in transition?” It does what it did when they drove a freeway through Phillips (the part of Minneapolis between Franklin/Lake and 35/Hiawatha), or Frogtown (St. Paul from Lexington/Western and Como/94).