A small freight railroad company has rejected what it called a “take-it-or-leave-it” deal outlining how it will share part of the proposed Southwest light-rail line’s nearly 15-mile route.
Talks between Glencoe-based Twin Cities & Western Railroad (TC&W) and the Metropolitan Council over ownership and operational issues related to the $1.9 billion Southwest project broke down late last year. Over the past month, their relationship has turned decidedly bitter.
Freight trains operated by TC&W run along the Kenilworth corridor, a spit of land separating Lake of the Isles and Cedar Lake that is popular with bicyclists and pedestrians, and a spur between St. Louis Park and Minnetonka. Southwest LRT and TC&W trains are expected to share part of the corridor.
After negotiations stalled last year, the Met Council offered TC&W an $11.9 million deal last month that calls for the railroad to cooperate during Southwest’s construction and release all potential legal claims. Another $230,000 was put on the table to cover TC&W’s expenses. (Construction of the line, which would connect downtown Minneapolis to Eden Prairie, is expected to begin later this year, with passenger service starting in 2023.)
At the time, Met Council officials said TC&W was trying to negotiate a “sweetheart deal,” a charge the railroad called a “fabrication.”
The Council gave TC&W until Wednesday to respond to its offer. That was summarily rejected by the railroad, which called it “highhanded.”
Wegner said his company wants to be protected from loss or damage to its property and degradation in service related to the construction and operation of Southwest LRT.
The council, Wegner added, is ignoring “the very real concerns of the farmers and freight shippers who rely on TC&W to move their goods to national and worldwide markets through Hennepin County.”
Wegner said the firm has “tried to be constructive partners with the Met Council, but the sad reality is that they have decided to make us adversaries.”
Representatives from the Met Council were not immediately available for comment.