A $160 million plan to build two shallow tunnels for the Southwest light-rail line's passage through the Kenilworth neighborhood of Minneapolis was endorsed by the Metropolitan Council's Corridor Management Committee on Wednesday over the strong opposition of Minneapolis residents.
The plan calls freight rail in Kenilworth "permanent" and requires light-rail planners to “discontinue any further work related to the freight rail relocation out of the Kenilworth corridor,” according to the Star Tribune. It will go to the full Met Council as early as next week.
The plan was approved by 15 of the committee's 16 mayors, county officials and other leaders, the paper reported. Minneapolis mayor R.T. Rybak cast the lone dissenting vote, though Hennepin County Commissioner Gail Dorfman and other members of the committee supported Rybak in his attempt to keep relocation on the table.
Dorfman told the paper that while removing freight rail relocation from discussion could make the possibility of receiving municipal consent from Minneapolis "dead on arrival," the economic benefits of the project impelled her to move forward despite doubts.
“It would be irresponsible to walk away from it now,” she said.The news was greeted happily by Safety in the Park, the neighborhood advocacy group that arose to combat the possibility of freight rail in the St. Louis Park community.
"An important positive milestone reached," the group wrote in an email bulletin. "The efforts of St. Louis Park residents opposing the freight rail re-route through our city paid off today with an important, tangible milestone."
The efforts of St. Louis Park residents opposing the freight rail re-route through our city paid off today with an important, tangible milestone.
The shallow tunnel option avoids full residential property acquisitions in the Kenilworth neighborhood and would retain a West Lake Street light-rail station while eliminating the 21st Street Station.