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Local Politicians Want 'Re-Examination' of Southwest LRT: Ask for Cheaper, Better Options

Local lawmakers and public officials are asking the Met Council for better options for accommodating the light-rail line in the south metro.

The Southwest LRT Green Line (Credit: Met Council)
The Southwest LRT Green Line (Credit: Met Council)

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.”
Eric Anondson August 22, 2013 at 02:08 PM
What is so offensive about elevating the bike trail through the corridor? Elevated trails aren't ugly by themselves. The High Line in NYC is its own attraction now, that can be done well and cheap.
Mike B. August 22, 2013 at 03:34 PM
I laugh and laugh at this light rail controversy. The liberal Met Council has for years acted as a social engineer to make sure Minneapolis' problems spread to the suburbs. Now that the light rail would run through the districts of Democrat Party hacks as Dibble and Hornstein, those liberals are all upset at the Met Council. Liberals fighting liberals!!! This is great!
Eric Anondson August 22, 2013 at 10:17 PM
It is NOT that light rail is running through Democratic districts. You aren't paying attention. It is that freight rail is now proposed to STAY in the Kenilworth corridor when they were "promised" freight in Kenilworth would be temporary and would be rammed into SLP when LRT was going to come through. I don't think SLP was ever asked if they could take the freight traffic that was being removed from the Midtown Corridor to make the Midtown Greenway, but "they" promised the Kenilworth residents freight traffic was going to be temporary until it was later put out west in SLP. Minneapolis government is expert at making promises they have no way of knowing how or if they can ever live up to then residents flip their collective lid when the promises come due and they aren't getting what they were told.
Kathryn Kottke August 23, 2013 at 10:21 AM
Where are these promises documented? Who made them? I have been asking these questions for three years in two separate committees involving this ridiculous and unsafe reroute, and no one--not even Gail Dorfman--can produce a written record. Why anyone would trust a politician's word is beyond me. "Read my lips," Minneapolis, politicians lie.
Eric Anondson August 23, 2013 at 12:09 PM
Allegedly, the promises were negotiated back in the 1990s when SLP's creosote superfund site needed resolving because of fears groundwater was at threat. The Hennepin County commissioner that represented the region including SLP at the time says he participated in the negotiations that got Hennepin County to help pay for the some of the remediation costs for the superfund site, he says the negotiations committed SLP to take the freight rail in the future as part of payment for the cleanup. I lived in SLP at the time and in one of the affected neighborhoods and I DO NOT recall ever being informed of the clean up costs committed us to take the freight rail. If this is all fact, then this is a horrible example of the kind of nontransparent government Mark Andrews practices and Minneapolis residents need to take it into account as to how fit he is as a mayoral candidate of their city. Plus, that he would bother committing to something without knowing federal rail safety minimums and how it would fit in the committed-to future corridor.

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