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She attributed the revised berm designs to staff members experimenting with different ideas.
“I think engineers are always looking for a different design and new approach,” Haigh said. “I can only assume that’s what they were doing.”
Other Met Council members, political appointees of the governor whose role is to set policies that are implemented by the council’s staff, said Tuesday they were unaware that their staff had sent a design to the city that included higher elevations for the north tunnel in some places or that the design was justified as dealing with the water table.
“That’s news to me,” Council Member Jennifer Munt said.
“I do not know why, and I wasn’t very happy when I found out,” Council Member Adam Duininck said. “It feels to me it was done without our direction and … without my knowing.”
Duininck also said he’s confident that a tunnel could be built safely north of the channel without the berms.
The tunnel surprise could further complicate talks between the Met Council and Minneapolis on whether it will approve the project, which has been opposed by the City Council and Mayor Betsy Hodges. They objected to the earlier tunnel design and pushed to reroute freight train traffic from the corridor.
During nearly a year of give-and-take with Met Council officials, city officials and some residents of the Kenilworth corridor have expressed concerns that the agency would change plans to something even less appealing to them.
Pat Doyle • 612-673-4504