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Continued: Southwest light-rail line planners woo Minneapolis critics with new tunnel idea

  • Article by: PAT DOYLE , Star Tribune
  • Last update: March 12, 2014 - 11:45 PM

The latest Met Council versions cost less than the $330 million option because they wouldn’t be as deep and could be built by walling off the channel rather than burrowing beneath it.

But they have drawbacks beyond being more expensive than running the light-rail line over the channel. Tunneling under it would add another year to construction of the project, likely delaying the opening of the Southwest line until 2019. And the channel, used by water sports enthusiasts, would be shut down for a year.

Met Council engineers said the $40 million version would greatly shorten the tunnel north of the channel and allow for a station at ground level at 21st Street. But homeowners in the area aren’t sold on the station.

“They’re divided on it,” said Jeanette Colby, who follows Southwest Corridor issues for the Kenwood Isles Area Association.

Cool response from bankroller

The channel options are likely to be viewed as an unnecessary additional cost to an already expensive project or as the price of buying support from Minneapolis. But the Minneapolis City Council last week passed a resolution supporting moving the freight trains, building the light-rail line at ground level next to the bike and walking trails, and rejecting the earlier plan for tunnels.

The Met Council is required by state law to seek municipal consent from the five cities along the proposed line.

“If this gets us to yes, that’s going to help,” McLaughlin said. “It’s very significant. I think it’s something worth exploring.”

But Matt Look, an Anoka County commissioner and a member of the Counties Transit Improvement Board (CTIB) that bankrolls a third of transit development, said, “Someone’s got their hands on CTIB’s wallet.”

He renewed his call to consider a much less expensive option of moving a portion of the bike and pedestrian trails from the corridor to make room for light-rail and freight trains at ground level. The city of Minneapolis has rejected that idea.

 

Pat Doyle • 612-673-4504

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