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Other city officials, while favoring a reroute, have left open the possibility of endorsing some version of the tunnels. Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak sent Haigh a letter last month outlining his concerns about the tunnels but seeking assurances they could be built without damaging lakes or permanently eliminating trails or trees.
The recommendation on Tuesday for digging tunnels carries weight because the 17 members of the Met Council are appointed and rely heavily on their staff for direction.
To compensate for the costs of the tunnels and other new expenses, the engineers also recommended eliminating the last station proposed for the line at Mitchell Road in Eden Prairie to save $75 million.
They didn’t recommend another idea they recently considered — digging only one tunnel south of the channel and building the light rail at ground level north of it. That option would have preserved the 21st Street station in the Kenilworth corridor — which is eliminated under the plan for two tunnels — and reduced tunnel costs from $160 million to $100 million. But it would have drawn even greater opposition from Kenilworth-area residents and the city of Minneapolis.
Pat Doyle • 612-673-4504