Two state lawmakers from Minneapolis are calling for an independent study to determine how vibrations from the construction and operation of the proposed Southwest light-rail line will affect the Calhoun-Isles condominium complex.
The residential complex off the Kenilworth corridor between Cedar Lake and Lake of the Isles is comprised largely of former grain elevators built of concrete during the city’s milling heyday.
An engineering firm hired by the Calhoun Isles Condominium Association determined that the structure is “extremely susceptible to vibration damage” caused by the LRT line. The trains will run near the complex in a shallow tunnel, whose footings are just 2 feet away from one of the condo towers and 9 inches away from its parking garage.
But the Metropolitan Council, which is building the $1.9 billion line, said it has “properly addressed this issue” and will further discuss its strategies at a legislative hearing on Wednesday.
In a letter to the Met Council dated Tuesday, Sen. Scott Dibble and Rep. Frank Hornstein, both DFL-Minneapolis, said a study by an independent consultant would likely cost less than $100,000. They are urging the council to complete a study while the project is delayed by construction bidding issues and by the need to evaluate the environmental consequences of erecting a crash-protection wall between LRT and freight trains west of Target Field.
Dibble and Hornstein say the timing is right for the study, because construction of the light-rail line has not begun. If the condos are damaged during construction or after service has started, they wrote, it “may well be too late to make any kind of fundamental change to the project,” causing disruption “to the lives, finances and health of our constituents, and enormously expensive, or even fatal, to the project.”
The letter is addressed to Met Council Chairwoman Alene Tchourumoff and Council Member Gail Dorfman.
The 14.5-mile Southwest line would connect downtown Minneapolis with Eden Prairie, with passenger service expected to begin in 2023.
Its path through the Kenilworth corridor has sparked a federal lawsuit filed by residents who claim the council violated federal environmental laws when choosing the route. That case is pending in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis.