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Minneapolis to hold public meeting, St. Louis Park to vote on Southwest Light Rail project

Posted by: Tim Harlow Updated: July 7, 2014 - 1:39 PM

Minnetonka and Hopkins have given the thumbs up for plans to route the proposed Southwest Light Rail line through their cities. St. Louis Park could be next.

The City Council will vote on Monday on whether to give its approval for the 15.8-mile line that would run from Minneapolis to Eden Prairie and feature 16 stations in Minneapolis and the four western and southwestern suburbs.

The plan needs approval from all five cities and Hennepin County.

A sticking point in St. Louis Park is what will happen with freight traffic. At a meeting earlier this year, Council member Tim Brausen spoke in favor of including an explicit statement in the municipal consent resolution that states it is the city’s understanding that the plans include abandoning the idea of rerouting freight rail.

Heated debate on whether to move freight traffic out of the Kenilworth Corridor or whether to build tunnels near two lakes has been at the core of discussions in Minneapolis.

Meanwhile, Minneapolis is just now holding a public meeting, a step required before the city can vote on the issue. The meeting will be held at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Anwatin Middle School, 256 Upton Av. S.

The meeting comes less than a week before any vote can be taken. The Metropolitan Council, the agency overseeing the project, has cited state law in setting a July 14 deadline for a vote on the project by the five cities and Hennepin County.

Hennepin County has a vote scheduled for Tuesday and Eden Prairie for July 14.

The Southwest Light Rail line would be the most expensive project in metro area's history, eclipsing the $1 billion spent to open the Green Line, the 11-mile light-rail line that opened in June and runs between Union Depot in downtown St. Paul and Target Field in downtown Minneapolis.

According to the Met Council, the line would begin service in 2019 and cost $1.7 billion, funded by a combination of federal, state and local money. Construction would begin in 2015.

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