A better route for Southwest commuter rail

  • Article by: BERNIE H. BEAVER
  • Updated: August 14, 2013 - 7:32 PM
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Two blocks! Resolution of the conflict on the Kenilworth Trail between freight rail lines, light rail and the bike path is only about two blocks.

I often bike the Midtown Greenway/Kenilworth trails. North of Cedar Lake Avenue (27th Street) and south of the Greenway intersection (29th Street), there is ample space to accommodate all three users, so the controversy is only about the two blocks between.

I find it preposterous that anyone would consider spending $330 million to build a tunnel to accommodate these conflicting interests for only two blocks when there are several less expensive alternatives. For example:

1)  All affected homes could be bought and removed for a fraction of that cost.

2)  Freight-rail and light-rail trains could use the same track — or overlap the two tracks — for two blocks.

3) The light-rail train could stop at Cedar Lake Avenue, with riders walking two blocks to catch the train at the Green­way. You can build a covered walkway for far less than $330 million.

4) The bike trail could be replaced with a pedestrian walkway so that bikers could walk their bikes for two blocks, then resume their ride. (There are actually several biking alternatives around this bottleneck area).

Adam Platt was correct in his commentary (“The wiggle room is in the bike trail,” Aug. 11): Someone has to give a little to make this happen.

Don’t change the freight lines. Freight traffic should continue on the same lines, but there are other westbound tracks if scheduling presents a conflict.

Mass transit in the form of light rail is here to stay, and we should all embrace it so that the next phase can be built. It will provide good transit alternatives and remove cars from our streets and highways.

All change has benefits as well as costs. Focus on the benefits. But first, eliminate the $330 million idea and focus on a better solution for these two blocks.

* * *

Bernie H. Beaver lives in Edina.

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