'Density' or 'Mayhem'?

In his letter to the Pioneer Press on Sunday (5/21), Mathews Hollinshead displayed a masterful knowledge of the history of the internal combustion engine and its impact on the world, especially St. Paul. Those who oppose the density of residential and commercial buildings have set out careful and thorough arguments at their website (https://www.livablefordvillage.com/) which we encourage everyone to visit. Anyone who does so will not find a defense of cars or even single-family homes, but a much simpler argument based on basic physics; elements, when compressed in a small state and provided no or limited means of escape, explode or at least react violently.

For this reason high density buildings or event sites like US Bank Stadium, Target Field and downtowns of all large cities are served by access and egress routes which relieve compression by allowing large numbers of people and their vehicles to enter or exit with minimal trouble. Think Blue and Green Line light rail, I-394, I-35W and I-94 all within blocks.

A glance at the zoning map for the Ford development shows that there are no such access and egress routes for this area which is relatively small and closed on two sides (west and south). Planners have included only two arterial streets (i.e. more than 2 lane; they’re actually only two lane with a turn lane). There is rumor of a transit line but it is not mentioned or included on the zoning map. It’s evidenced in plans only by a diagram including two ‘transit lanes’ for one of the two arteries.

So an area two-tenths of a mile squared will be asked to absorb 7,000+ new residents and as many as 2,000 new day-occupants. This means that the Ford site, once built and occupied will have a population density of 34,000/mi2 (New York City has a population density of 24,500/mi2) without a single subway, light-rail line, or even a 4-lane highway.

We (Neighbors for a Livable St. Paul) do want higher density homes and office space, but interspersed with ample (25%) park and common space. But more than anything we want our new neighbors to be able to get in and out of their new neighborhood without hours of daily frustration because of blockage.

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