Readers Write: (July 19): Southwest light rail, Alberta Clipper pipeline, health care costs, Hostess, the filibuster

  • Updated: July 18, 2013 - 6:26 PM

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This project is not yet ready for prime time

Thank you for the article about the soaring costs of Southwest light-rail transit proposals, particularly as they relate to the routing or rerouting of freight trains (“Southwest rail costs soar,” July 18). While the potential financial impacts may create political challenges, the neighborhoods struggling with this issue are also concerned about impacts that are harder to quantify.

Minneapolis residents want to preserve green space and a bike trail heavily used by people throughout the metro area. St. Louis Park is considering how a 20-foot earthen berm that would separate trains from car traffic might also divide our city down the middle. Angry advocates on both sides are trying to talk over one another. Absent from the debate are any tangible details about the likely benefits of a new light-rail line. I believe that the Southwest line will encourage public and private investments in our communities, but that belief is being tested as I witness people minimizing the concerns of others. If we cannot find a way to rise above our own self-interests and balance the needs of people who live in all five cities along the Southwest Corridor, the availability of public funds should be the least of our concerns.


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The southwest suburbs have lived with freeway gridlock for a generation that spills onto Minneapolis streets. Hennepin County wisely bought railroad right of way back in 1984 to provide a direct, inexpensive route for a light-rail line to Hopkins and Eden Prairie to help alleviate this congestion. However, the Minnesota Department of Transportation created a monster in 2001 by closing the freight-rail connection across Hiawatha Avenue. Now, the added cost to support freight service to western Minnesota, along with threatened lawsuits by residents in the Kenwood neighborhood and in St. Louis Park, threaten to kill the Southwest light-rail project. This must not be allowed to happen.

The preferred route through Kenwood does not serve Minneapolis residents very well and does not provide enough space for both light-rail and freight-rail tracks. The threatened lawsuits could tie up the project for years. A better alignment would continue east along the former railroad route to Lyndale or Nicollet Avenues, then head north into downtown via a Hennepin Avenue transit mall. That would serve more people, avoid conflicts with freight trains, possibly complement future streetcar lines and save cost to build the Southwest line.


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Imagine pipeline as many exhaust pipes

Here’s an example of the outcomes that the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission has knowingly allowed in granting approval to Enbridge Energy’s plans to boost the capacity of its Alberta Clipper pipeline in Minnesota (“Oil pipeline from Canada gets state OK for expansion,” July 18): Consuming the planned 120,000-­barrel-per-day increment of tar sands oil will inject an additional 26 million metric tons per year of climate-upsetting greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. This is the equivalent of the combined exhausts of 5.5 million continuously operating cars. Are today’s droughts, floods, wildfires and tropical storms not severe enough to satisfy these people?


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