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“Plus or minus 15 million bucks on a deal like this … I don’t think that’s a relative factor,” he said, adding that more engineering work on a freight reroute would only delay the project without producing useful information.
If any tunnel is built, the Kenilworth corridor is likely to see more disruption than elsewhere along the construction zone where light-rail tracks would be built at ground level. Wagenius said residents in the corridor worry about the noise and turmoil that would be caused by digging one or more tunnels for light rail under existing recreation trails.
While some Kenilworth residents favor tunnels that would be bored from underground to minimize disruption, the tunnels under consideration would be cut from above in sections and covered up, with the trails restored over them. That process would take a year or more.
Minneapolis says an option to dig a single tunnel extending under the water channel hasn’t been adequately studied but would be more disruptive. That more expensive option, offered two weeks ago by the Met Council, also has drawn criticism from officials from St. Louis Park and elsewhere.
Some of the more vocal opponents of the light-rail plan have back yards that run alongside the recreation trails.
When Wagenius asked about buyouts, Southwest project engineer Jim Alexander replied: “We do not have any allocation for purchasing property. We do not have any need for taking homes … in this area.”
“What about people who are willing to stay during construction impacts but their property values diminish?” Wagenius asked.
Alexander said that the project would survey the area before beginning work and that “if there are things that occur because of construction, we’ll have to rectify that.” A spokesman for the project later said there is no budget to compensate for loss of property value.
Minnetonka Mayor Terry Schneider told other metro leaders that residents in his community also would face construction turmoil. “
That’s just the reality,” he said. “They have to put up with it. They’ll benefit from it in the long term, but they don’t get compensated for their property value or inconvenience.”
Pat Doyle • 612-673-4504