The Met Council’s decision on whether to relocate freight rail through St. Louis Park or run it parallel to the Southwest Light Rail Transitway has been postponed until Sept. 25. But some Met Council members and local legislators are expressing dissatisfaction that both options are politically controversial—and wildly expensive.
Earlier this month, Rep. Frank Hornstein and Sen. Scott Dibble sent a letter to Met Council Chair Susan Haigh calling for a “thorough re-examination of less intrusive freight options in St. Louis Park or other communities.”
The Met Council is considering two options for building light-rail tunnels through the Kenilworth corridor and one option for re-routing freight through St. Louis Park.
The Met Council seems to be leaning toward one of the tunnel options, but this has raised the ire of some public figures who maintain that Kenilworth residents were promised that they would only have to accommodate freight rail tracks temporarily.
Mark Andrew, a former Hennepin County Commissioner who’s running for mayor of Minneapolis, published a piece in the Star Tribune asking “ for all parties to revisit the original agreement to move freight-rail traffic through St. Louis Park.”
“The burden of colocating light rail and freight rail next to the stunning biking and hiking trail is simply too much for Minneapolis to bear,” he wrote. “Colocation endangers our neighborhoods, our parkland, our regional trail systems, and our lakes and waters. Additionally, projected costs of colocation are excessively high and impossible to justify.”
But the issue is split largely on regional lines, and Hennepin County Commission Chair Mike Opat, a Robbinsdale resident whose district is mostly suburban, told the Star Tribune that too much effort had been made on behalf of the Kenilworth neighborhood.
“An extraordinary amount of time and energy that’s been spent to accommodate a relative few, mostly in Minneapolis,” he said.
Safety in the Park, the neighborhood advocacy group supported by more than 1,500 St. Louis Park residents, sent an email to its membership on Wednesday, asking them to send letters to Mayor Jeff Jacobs, Met Council Representative Jim Brimeyer and Edina Mayor Hovland, urging them to advocate for co-location.“Our mayor being silent is all the more reason for us to be vocal,” the letter read. “So, although we have written letters over and over again, we need to continue to voice our opposition to the proposed re-route.”