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Continued: Deadlines loom for $1.68 billion Southwest light-rail project

  • Article by: PAT DOYLE , Star Tribune
  • Last update: June 12, 2014 - 8:54 PM

Others ready to vote

Hopkins, Minnetonka, St. Louis Park and Eden Prairie officials have set dates for voting on the Southwest plan and, unlike Minneapolis, have given preliminary approval.

But final approval of the plan may come with a wish list of suggested modifications.

Schneider said Minnetonka might ask the Met Council to consider spending money to buffer noise and vibration where the line runs close to multifamily housing.

“We’re not making it a condition that it has to move,” he said of the route. “The whole system is more important than that one negative impact.”

Eden Prairie public works director Robert Ellis said his city may also approve the basic plan with a wish list of extras that could be financed with any contingency funding that isn’t needed elsewhere on the project.

“We’ve got maybe six or seven items we’d like to see included in the project costs if there’s funding available,” he said. They include connecting a road to a station and having two platforms straddling tracks rather than one platform between them.

Under state law, the cities could take a tougher stance, rejecting the Southwest plan and amending it with necessary conditions. But that strategy could trigger a new round of discussions and votes that could further delay or torpedo the project.

Minneapolis streetcars?

Some Minneapolis officials and community groups would like to see better bus access to Southwest stations near the city’s North Side.

Another possible source of a deal involves the desire of some Minneapolis city officials to build streetcar lines.

“Mayor Hodges has always talked about streetcars as one of her big initiatives,” Brickman, the mayor’s communications director, said this week. “We have heard rumors of the Met Council wanting to use streetcars as a bargaining chip.” The Met Council declined to comment on the assertion.

Brickman declined to comment on whether Hodges has made streetcars a condition of the city supporting Southwest, citing the ongoing mediation sessions between Met Council members, city officials and retired federal Chief Magistrate Judge Arthur Boylan. “Our guiding principle is respect for the confidentiality of mediation,” she said.

 

Pat Doyle • 612-673-4504

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