The deep tunnel should be back on the table. Or: Tunnels of any kind should be forgotten.
To tunnel or not to tunnel?
The Nov. 15 editorial convincingly made the case for the potential value of the Southwest Corridor light-rail line to the city of Minneapolis. However, it is most disappointing that the editorial never mentioned the best option for getting this done without further controversy: a deep tunnel between Lake Street and Penn Avenue. This option was, in the minds of many, prematurely removed from further consideration by the Metropolitan Council due to concerns about cost, but the actual difference in cost to state and local government between this option and the currently unacceptable ones under review is less than $100 million. Even with this added cost, the project is highly competitive with others under review for matching funds by federal funding agencies.
The shallow-tunnel option will never be an aesthetically and environmentally acceptable solution regardless of its safety to the Chain of Lakes. It is most unlikely a new solution will be found for relocating freight, and even if it were, it would leave an at-grade line through the entire corridor between Lake and Penn, with all of the problems that would pose. However, a deep tunnel would satisfy all stakeholders by eliminating the threats to both St. Louis Park and the Kenilworth Corridor while permitting the lines as planned, minus one station of questionable value at 21st Street.
Steven R. Goldsmith, Minneapolis
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The one sure way to eliminate environmental risks to the Minneapolis lakes is to avoid light-rail tunnels entirely and run the line at grade through Kenilworth. The money saved could then be applied to the connecting Midtown streetcar line or to higher and better county and suburban transit needs. The fact that colocation can be done at-grade for $35 million — or even less — without taking any Minneapolis homes, and the fact that the four additional freights will be hardly noticed in Kenilworth once light rail is implemented, should be sufficient to avoid the tunnels, independent of the latest round of consultant opinions.
Meanwhile, there is nothing petty (as the Nov. 15 editorial suggests) about the concerns voiced by St. Louis Park officials over rerouted freights. It is one thing for the four daily freights to roll quietly through Kenwood on a flat, relatively straight track profile, and quite another thing for those same freights to scream and grind up a half-mile grade in central St. Louis Park and then around one or two modestly sharp curves. Even Kenwood folks, a couple miles away, will hear and feel that, so you can imagine what it will be like in the transit-oriented, mixed-use development zone planned for the Louisiana Station area.
The Star Tribune Editorial Board made a compelling and articulate case for the benefits of the Southwest LRT endeavor. Let’s hope Minneapolis officials and Gov. Mark Dayton are buying it and not the $160 million shallow tunnel mea culpa offered by Met Council to Minneapolis.
JEROME JOHNSON, St. Paul
CHARITY AND IDEOLOGY
Some problems are too big for donors
I thought it interesting that Friday’s Letter of the Day (“Dayton’s giving reflects the ideology of compassion”) was immediately rebutted by a following letter regarding the Affordable Care Act. That writer noted that having “fundraisers to aid families stuck with multi-thousand-dollar medical bills and no savings to cover it … apparently alleviates … [our] responsibilities to the poor.”
My wife has noted that everywhere she goes recently, there are requests for donations for things that can’t really be resolved through this nickel-and-dime approach — things that need a full societal effort such as the ACA.
It was also interesting that the letter writer quoted his 18-year-old son as saying (paraphrasing here) that people don’t work hard because the government will provide for them. That seemed rather odd coming from his generation, since a headline on Page A3 of the Star Tribune that same day read: “20-somethings broke, waiting for a break, census shows.” Heaven forbid that government should ever get involved to provide aid in that situation.
I sincerely hope that the writer never loses his job (none are permanent; all businesses eventually fail) and has a pre-existing medical condition. Charitable giving by conservatives will not resolve the economic issues he could face in such circumstances.
TOM OBERT, Alexandria, Minn.
The Opinion section is produced by the Editorial Department to foster discussion about key issues. The Editorial Board represents the institutional voice of the Star Tribune and operates independently of the newsroom.