2) There are many benefits vital to Minneapolis.
Becoming the hub of a growing rail transit network will significantly improve regional access to our central business district. This access is critical for the continued growth and vitality of downtown and of our tax base. Furthermore, Southwest light rail would be funded with federal, state and county dollars.
With Southwest LRT in Kenilworth, a cost-effective and equitable Greenway Line could serve Uptown; high-transit-ridership neighborhoods along Lake Street, and the area around Wells Fargo and Abbott Northwestern Hospital — one of just three designated growth centers in Minneapolis. The Nicollet alignment of Southwest LRT would have served only the downtown growth center. The Met Council has designated south Minneapolis along the Greenway Line as one of the city’s racially concentrated areas of poverty.
Adjacent population and employment numbers projected for Minneapolis in 2030, excluding downtown, show that the Network Alignment would serve many more residents and jobs in our city.
3) We can preserve the Kenilworth Trail.
Both of us bike and love the Kenilworth Trail. We can visualize attractive post-construction landscaping. The trail would be different, but it would remain a valuable natural resource. Light-rail trains would not pass at grade in the narrows of the corridor. We could enjoy the trail away from the trains north of 21st Street, where the corridor is much wider.
Our beloved trails would not exist at all without our community’s partnership with the rail authority, which purchased the Midtown and Kenilworth corridors for transit purposes. We should acknowledge the benefits to our city and region of sharing our trails with thoughtfully designed rail transit.
A 21st-century city? In a recent McKnight Foundation report on the Twin Cities’ competitiveness, Jay Walljasper wrote: “Even with the soon-to-open Green Line, we’re still behind places like Dallas, St. Louis, Calgary, San Diego, Baltimore and Salt Lake City on rail transit, not to mention our A-list competitors.”
The shallow-tunnel option may well be our last opportunity to start catching up with our competition. In exchange for co-location, let’s seek resolution to issues like West Lake Street station planning and the park channel crossing. Let’s all agree not to build the project if there is no funding for the tunnels. We, too, are so disappointed that this project has resulted in controversy and failed promises.
Despite these disappointments, Minneapolis still would receive enormous benefits from Southwest LRT, all paid by our partners outside of the city. Cost would be competitive and ridership excellent. Our trail would remain a valuable amenity with trains underground. What kind of city do we want to be? It is time to decide. The consequences of our decision will be felt for decades to come. Let’s build it now.
Bob Corrick was a Southwest LRT Policy Advisory Committee (PAC) member and is past president of the Midtown Greenway Coalition. John DeWitt was a PAC member for the Midtown Corridor Alternatives Analysis and co-chaired its Citizens Advisory Committee. He also was an alternate Southwest LRT PAC member, co-founder of Transit for Livable Communities and a board member for the Midtown Greenway Coalition. They live in the Cedar-Isles-Dean and Prospect Park neighborhoods, respectively.
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