Discussion about entry

The Saint Paul Art Train

Craig Blakely
by Craig Blakely | Apr 01, 2013

This is discussion about The Saint Paul Art Train.

Congratulations and good luck!

by Herbert Chiou | Aug 13, 2013

Congratulations on being selected as a finalist!

I like it -- only wish it were in Minneapolis!

by Paul Strebe | Aug 13, 2013

I'm going to assume the foundation who selected this as a finalist have looked or will look into the contamination issue Mark Smith pointed out. And I don't know about this guy's previous ideas, but you don't always bat 1000. In any case, I think it would be a great addition to this area.

Interesting concept

by John Lilja | Aug 13, 2013

The idea of recycling train cars makes a lot of sense, though I'd recommend freight cars over "passenger cars". The shape and structure is more conducive to redesign.

The DOD uses recycled 20' and 40' shipping containers as buildings all over the world. Being stackable, they can be several levels tall and can be connected end to end and side to side. So the recycling concept is not new.

But I'm confused by this: "...recycled passenger rail cars permanently affixed to abandoned railroad spurs in the public right-of-way. Costs would be kept low because no land would be acquired."

If we're not acquiring the land, then whose land is it? If it has already been acquired, then this issue seems the same for any project. Makes me wonder why these parcels of land have not already been sold for redevelopment.

Good luck!

nicely said

by adam gott | Mar 21, 2014

nicely said Adam Gottbetter attorney

St Paul Art Train

by Henry Peterson | Aug 14, 2013

The idea could only be conceived by someone who works for the government. Let's take it one thing at a time. There is NO SUCH THING as abandoned track that dosn't belong to someone. Any passenger car built before 1970 contains asbestos insulation. NO pasenger car built before 1970 could pass ADA standards. NO passenger car can be made to pass current St. Paul City building codes. To move passenger cars in freight service is difficult, expensive and often not possable. If more information is needed, you may wish to talk to one of us who owns one.

Please Keep Comments Constructive

by Minnesota Idea Open | Aug 14, 2013

The Forever Saint Paul Challenge has deleted two comments and their responses that were disparaging of Craig and his idea. We ask that everyone keep their comments constructive. Removing disparaging comments is in keeping with our guidelines on how to handle negative comments, which read: In keeping with the spirit of the Open, we ask participants to keep discussion constructive. The Idea Open is about encouraging participation and brainstorming new ideas—not tearing down any idea, individual or organization. If we feel that any ideas or comments are disparaging of any individual, group, or organization, we will remove it. We also reserve the right to remove any ideas or comments that attempt to sell or promote a product not related to the Challenge or the topic. To be transparent, we will replace the idea or comment with a note explaining our action.

Comments and Concerns

by Craig Blakely | Aug 14, 2013

I wanted to respond to a few of the comments I have received on my Art Train proposal.

I know the challenges involved in any restoration, let along a conversion of rolling stock into useable space. Indeed, the point of my proposal is to determine whether such conversions are feasible and cost effective.

One commentator is correct that there is no such thing as abandoned track that doesn't belong to anyone. In this case, the Minnesota Commercial Railway owns the track which is in the public right of way by right of an easement, and they want to either rip the track out of the street and abandon the easement, or give the track to the City and abandon the easement.

I know that transporting older rolling stock over the rails involves bringing them up to certain standards, but that as long as they are less than 50 years old, that is not cost prohibitive. I also know that there will be costs involved in dealing with asbestos, putting new utilities in, making the cars handicapped accessible (by way of a block long boardwalk), and conforming to City health, safety, and building codes. But the fact that there would be no land acquisition costs somewhat off-sets those costs.

Another commentator has focused on hazardous wastes. While I don't know what is specifically in the ground, I know that the West Midway in general and railroad lines in specific often have contaminated soils, but that if they are not signifiantly disturbed, that can be encapsulated at an affordable cost.

Finally, while I know the disrepute public employees are held in (some of which is deserved), I submitted this application as a private citizen, and any failure of imagination or lack of foresight is entirely my own, and it is unfair to paint all public servants with so broad a brush.

That said, I know that I have much to learn about converting old rail cars and railroad lines to new uses, that there are many people out there who have much to teach me, and I welcome any constructive comments that will improve my proposal.

Thank You!

by Minnesota Idea Open | Aug 14, 2013

It's great to see these comments from community members. After all, it's the community who got us to this exciting point in the Challenge by entering ideas, serving on the volunteer review panel to narrow entries down to 30 semifinalists, and by serving as judges to pick three great finalist ideas. Now all Minnesotans can decide how to invest $1million in Saint Paul. Thanks for staying involved!

Location of The Art Train

by Craig Blakely | Aug 16, 2013

My idea entry has been amended to reflect that no specific location has been confirmed for The Art Train. Prior references to a location were meant to be illustrative; there are many viable options in Saint Paul's West Midway along the Central Corridor Light Rail Line.

Art Train

by jon schumacher | Aug 19, 2013

There are districts in St. Paul where industrial zoning is critical and property values high. The Art Train idea is well-suited to maximizing space for smaller businesses or retail to service the workers and residents in these areas. If the RR cars can be cost-effectively repurposed for these kinds of uses, it's a win win for everyone in the district/city. The land use issue seems to have been explained and feasible. The RR cars would not necessitate brown field concerns as they sit on wheels above the ground and no ground needs to be broken for their use.

As for Mr. Blakely working for the city, who better to understand the complex processes necessary to find solutions to these kinds of challenges. During his career, I'm sure he has seen plenty of good ideas defeated and bad ideas elevated, such is the nature of city government. His understanding of what actually has a chance of finding its way to the light would be invaluable in a competition like this. St. Paul may have its problems, but it's generally considered to be one of the most livable cities in America, so some of our city employees must be doing something right.

To my mind, the Art Train represents a wonderful combination of honoring the past, expanding present options and creating sustainable neighborhoods. Isn't that what this competition is supposed to be about?

Kudos to Craig for his great visionary Art Train

by Vixai Tshajmeej | Aug 20, 2013

I think the idea of reuse and recycle old train for better use for economic redevelopment far outweighs the cost of laying waste. I would love to take family and kids to enjoy that kind of redevelopment sites, whether it caters restaurants or mini-commercial enterprises. It is unique and it is a great idea...!


by Monica Lee | Aug 21, 2013

I love the idea, Craig! Congratulations on being a finalist, I really hope the idea and plan goes through. I'll do my best to spread the word to my friends!

Arts AND jobs!

by Amy Sparks | Aug 21, 2013

I'm excited about the Art Train because it provides a great place for new creative enterprises. The industrial area around Raymond and University already houses a wide range of jobs-- from artists to architects to videographers to toy manufacturers. They've chosen this area because of it's historic buildings, it's central location and it's proximity to many other innovative folks. With the coming of light rail, there is competition for the historic industrial spaces where they have worked inexpensively in the past.

The Art Train could be one remedy to the shrinking number of interesting and historic spaces where creative entrepreneurs want to locate. Old warehouses that used to be full of artist studios are being converted to apartments forcing the previous tenants out. Folks in the Creative Enterprise Zone (the industrial area also known as West Midway) want to ensure there is permanent affordable workspace.

Regardless of where it is permanently located (there are lots of railroad spurs in this area), it will be a visible indicator of the innovative nature of the work being done in this neighborhood and an enticement to locate more creative and entrepreneurial jobs right here in St. Paul.

Wonderful idea..could "tinker with" to improve

by Ken Klein | Aug 28, 2013

Great idea. Could likely garner a DOT demonstration grant... a model for other cities.. could bring vaccination clinics, bookmobiles, emergency food shelves to neighborhoods eventually...would likely garner donations from the private sector (Great Northern?) ..spawn complementary spinoff ideas..I hope it moves forward even if it doesn't win this particular contest. Best wishes, Ken Klein Ph.D.

Art Train

by Amy Kaufman | Aug 30, 2013

After watching the video about the Art Train it helped me understand this idea. Way to think outside of the box. I think this idea has potential to draw business, artists and tourists to this area of town. It could put St. Paul on the map nationally.

Partnering for Saint Paul Railroad Legacy

by Oscar Lund | Sep 02, 2013

Great Idea...You are going to win! How about partnering with other Saint Paul Organizations and Entities interested in our Railroad History and Legacy? See our first round application to this project and also that of Jackson Street Roundhouse. Let's all focus on the regional legacy of James J. Hill!
Treasurer and Board Member
Twin City Model Railroad Museum
Bandana Square

Proudly announcing another

by Jeff roders | Nov 11, 2013

As always abc article always try to enhance your knowledge as in latest article you will learn how to speak fluent english which will help you make yous english speaking better then ever.

A train can make the travel

by llhjl hlhj | Feb 24, 2014

A train can make the travel time more fast because there is no traffic. - James Cullem