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Golden Valley City Council objects to proposed rail line

  • Article by: MARY JANE SMETANKA
  • Star Tribune
  • June 20, 2012 - 11:56 PM

The Golden Valley City Council has voted against routing the proposed Bottineau Transitway through the city, becoming the first city affected by the project to oppose the preferred route.

The council's 3-2 vote came even though the rejected resolution of support for what is likely to be a light-rail route included a list of conditions to protect the city and its property owners.

The 13-mile line is tentatively planned to run from downtown Minneapolis to the Target campus in Brooklyn Park or to the Arbor Lakes shopping complex in Maple Grove.

In Golden Valley, the light-rail line would run along an existing freight line at the edge of Theodore Wirth Park.

Council Member Joanie Clausen said the rail line would take open recreational space from the city. She said she had received many e-mails from residents who were against the project.

"This really would have a negative impact to our city," she said. "I believe light rail is our future, but this is [not where] it will be the best use."

Council Members Paula Pentel and DeDe Scanlon joined Clausen without comment in opposing the rail resolution. Council Member Mike Freiberg and Mayor Shep Harris voted for the measure, but both said they had reservations.

Harris said he believes an alternative route through north Minneapolis presents more opportunity for economic development and transportation access for people who don't have cars. But he said he was willing to support the Golden Valley route because the project will receive much more study and eventually come back to the city for another vote.

Hennepin County's Regional Rail Authority (which consists of the county commissioners) is set to vote Tuesday on a preferred route for Bottineau. Its recommendation will then go to the Metropolitan Council for more study.

Rail Authority Chairman Peter McLaughlin said Wednesday that he was disappointed by the Golden Valley vote but that "it shouldn't slow us down."

"We need to try to understand the concerns," he said. "I think this can be worked through. There's no easy answer here, and there's no route that doesn't have complications."

Discussion about preferred routes has leaned toward ending the line in Brooklyn Park and picking the Golden Valley link over north Minneapolis, McLaughlin said, but the north Minneapolis alternative is not off the table. That segment would run along Penn Avenue and West Broadway.

"We are still looking at it," he said. "That's why we have a process. All this has to be talked through."

Mary Jane Smetanka • 612-673-7380 Twitter: @smetan

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