Minneapolis park officials struck a deal with the Metropolitan Council on Friday that will allow for a bridge over the Kenilworth channel in Minneapolis for light-rail trains, a significant development in what had been a polarizing fight.
The deal between the Metro Council and Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board removes one of two major remaining obstacles to the project. The other is a lawsuit brought by area residents.
“Thanks to the diligent work of the Park Board and project engineers, we now have a path forward for this critically important transit investment, which is a vital link in the 21st century transit system we will build here in the greater Twin Cities metro,” Council Chairman Adam Duininck said. “The Council is pleased to have the Park Board’s support for bridging the channel.”
The deal also reimburses the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board up to $750,000 for its already incurred costs for studying the alternative of a tunnel under the channel, other costs related to the project, and for costs involved with the future Bottineau rail line, which also crosses parkland the board controls.
In return, the deal to be acted on Wednesday by the Park Board drops the tunnel alternative that its engineering consultants determined to be a feasible alternative to a bridge that which park commissioners argued would be more intrusive on recreational users of the area.
"The Park Board is very optimistic about the new, more collaborative efforts for the ongoing work on the Southwest Light Rail, the Bottineau Line and any future mass transit that may impact parkland in the metro area," said Park Board President Liz Wielinski.
The resolution park board members will vote on declares that despite that feasibility, insisting on a tunnel wouldn’t be prudent because it would delay the Southwest line and drive up costs.
Feasibility and prudence are the two key factors under federal law that governs when transportation projects may disrupt parkland or must find alternatives.