If freight trains can't be routed elsewhere, a proposed Southwest Light Rail Transit line through the Kenilworth Corridor should go into a deep tunnel under the Kenilworth Channel, the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board stated Wednesday.
In a unanimous resolution, board members stated their first preference is to not have light rail and freight trains together in the corridor, which runs between Lake of the Isles and Cedar Lake. But if both have to pass through the corridor, they want light rail deep underground.
They oppose a "shallow" tunnel option for light rail as too disruptive at each end, where trains would emerge to cross over the Kenilworth Channel, the narrow water body connecting Lake of the Isles with Cedar Lake and a popular canoe and kayak route in the summer and ski and skate course in the winter.
Board member Anita Tabb, who represents the area of Minneapolis on the board, called the shallow tunnel, as envisioned, "strip mining," since it would carve long trenches on either side of the channel.
The deep tunnel option, which would carry light rail under the channel, would cost about $330 million; the shallow one about half that. But officials from other regional bodies that have a stake in the light rail project have choked on the cost of the deep tunnel. That story is here.
Board members said they acted Tuesday in order to take a firm position on the project, even though it is still being designed. They also restated oppostion to having both freight and light rail in the corridor, which now contains a single freight rail track and paved paths for bicyclists and runners.
They also said they didn't think anyone would be surprised by their resolution. Board chairman John Erwin said it was n keeping with the board's mission to "preserve and protect the parks."