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Continued: Bicyclists say Southwest light-rail plan 'can work'

  • Article by: PAT DOYLE , Star Tribune
  • Last update: January 6, 2014 - 10:01 PM

Numerous “Save the Trails” signs of one Southwest opposition group, LRT Done Right, have been posted at homes near a channel linking Cedar Lake and Lake of the Isles.

Most included a demand that the freight train traffic be rerouted, the group’s original goal. More recently signs near the channel and on the group’s website call for rerouting the light rail instead of the freight, reflecting its latest strategy.

Although the trails would be restored, an organizer defended the warning.

“We kind of see ‘Save the Trails’ as a catchall for the environment,” said Courtney Cushing Kiernat. “Saving the trails is something that people who aren’t very familiar with the issue … can understand.

“I give kudos to the planners for looking at saving the trails,” she said, but questioned whether there will be enough room for them at the channel.

She said her group has shifted its focus from the trails to the potential impact of the light-rail construction and operation on water in the channel and nearby lakes. A recent study done for the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District found no “serious concerns” about potential adverse effects, but said that opinion could change as more information is gathered.

Faced with persistent criticism of the project, Gov. Mark Dayton in October delayed key decisions so another water study could be conducted. Details of that study are expected to be unveiled in a series of public meetings over the next few weeks that will help shape the future debate over the Southwest project.

The first meetings will be held Tuesday at the Kenwood Community Center near the Kenilworth corridor in Minneapolis and Thursday at the St. Louis Park Recreation Center.

The Met Council, criticized for its handling of earlier meetings, has hired a consultant to help explain the water study and an examination of possible new ways to relocate freight train traffic from the Kenilworth corridor to St. Louis Park. The suburb has resisted past attempts to do so.

Minneapolis officials demanded both studies. The Met Council under state law must seek the consent of Minneapolis, St. Louis Park and other communities along the Southwest line to move forward with the light-rail plan, a process expected to begin this winter.

Tests at condo sites

Meanwhile, Met Council engineers are conducting tests near the foundations of some condominiums south of Cedar Lake Parkway to determine how close they would be to a light-rail tunnel.

“When we get that information we’ll make a decision as to what we think is in the best interest,” said Nancy Green, who represents the Calhoun Isles Condominium Association on Southwest corridor issues.

Still, the plan gets a relatively warm response south of Cedar Lake Parkway, compared to earlier options that involved removing homes or the bike trail. Resident Bob Brockway said most condo and townhouse owners agree that the tunnel “is the best that we can expect, considering the alternatives.”

 

Pat Doyle • 612-673-4504

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  • This week’s meetings

    The Metropolitan Council will host facilitated public meetings on studies of freight traffic, water resources and landscaping in the Kenilworth area.

    Tuesday

    5-7:30 p.m.

    Kenwood Community Center

    2101 Franklin Av. W., Minneapolis

    Thursday

    5-7:30 p.m.

    St. Louis Park Recreation Center

    3700 Monterey Dr., St. Louis Park

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