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Continued: Dispute over Southwest light-rail delays opening to 2019 or later

  • Article by: PAT DOYLE , Star Tribune
  • Last update: March 26, 2014 - 9:24 PM

The plan would contribute $160 million to the cost.

Schneider said that option should be reconsidered along with a new one: a single tunnel running six-tenths of a mile and under the water channel. Although that tunnel would be shorter, burrowing under the bottom of the channel would boost the tunnel costs from $160 million to $200 million. He said the planners shouldn’t spend $245 million on a tunnel that would go under the channel and run 1.1 miles.

“We have a big decision to make next week,” said Hopkins City Council Member Cheryl Youakim.

Bad faith in Minneapolis?

Asked after the meeting if the city might consider the new tunnel alternatives, Wagenius questioned the sincerity of the Met Council.

“We are not convinced this is a real thing,” he said.

He noted that the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board urged the Met Council to consider tunneling under the channel and that the board has the authority to challenge the project under federal environmental regulations.

“It seems to us it might be entirely for the purpose of anticipating a future … lawsuit from the park board,” Wagenius said.

He said the Met Council first disclosed the new options for tunneling under the channel earlier this month to the park district and Hennepin County before telling Minneapolis two weeks ago. “No one has had enough time to evaluate,” he said. “The city has had even less than others.”

He said the City Council hasn’t softened its stance of three weeks ago, when it passed a resolution favoring the freight reroute and opposing the two tunnels with a light rail bridge over the channel.

The Met Council is required under state law to ask the cities along the proposed route for their consent to plans.

Wagenius declined to say whether the city would deny consent to a tunnel or tunnels.

But asked if he thought it was likely the city would vote with the majority of metro leaders next week, he replied, “No.”

 

Pat Doyle • 612-673-4504

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