On January 30, 2014, the Metropolitan Council issued the following press release:
Metropolitan Council releases drafts of independent freight, water reports on Southwest LRT
(St. Paul) – Today, the Metropolitan Council released two draft reports prepared by independent consultants to examine important issues that affect the proposed Southwest light rail line serving the communities of Minneapolis, St. Louis Park, Hopkins, Minnetonka and Eden Prairie. The draft reports include:
* An independent study of the location of freight rail service;
* An independent analysis of potential impacts on water resources with light rail operating in shallow tunnels along the Kenilworth Corridor.
The water resources draft report was conducted by Burns & McDonnell of Kansas City. It suggests that the conclusions of previous water studies — those conducted by the Southwest Project Office, its consultants and as well as the Minnehaha Watershed District — are sound: shallow light-rail tunnels would have minimal impact on water resources. The report indicates areas where more information should be included as the project advances into the next phase of engineering and environmental assessment.
The freight rail service study was conducted by TranSystems of Kansas City. It reviewed nine potential alternatives for freight rail location and eliminated seven of those based on established criteria such as cost, impacts and technical feasibility. The report finds that the Kenilworth shallow tunnel option, which allows freight rail to continue to operate in the corridor, is viable. It also finds that a second alternative, referred to as MNS North, is potentially viable. The MNS North alternative has similarities to the previously considered Brunswick Central alignment, but offers adjustments to alleviate many common community concerns. Relocation of freight rail to the MNS North alternative would allow light rail trains to run at grade through the Kenilworth Corridor.
“The Council received these draft reports today. Our first priority was to release these reports to the public and policymakers as quickly as possible,” said Council Chair Susan Haigh. “While these reports provide additional technical information about both freight and water issues, their conclusions must undergo technical, community, fiscal and policy scrutiny. Ultimately, the tough policy decisions must still be made by project partners and the Council. It is my hope that this new information will help us define the project scope and budget.”
All three reports are available for download here: http://metrocouncil.org/Transportation/Projects/Current-Projects/Southwest-LRT/Engineering.aspx?source=child
The scope of each report was created in consultation with the cities of Minneapolis and St. Louis Park, as well as with Hennepin County and project staff. The independent water resources evaluation assesses potential impacts of LRT construction and operations on water levels and water quality within the Kenilworth Corridor. It reviews and evaluates existing conditions as well as proposed construction methodology to minimize impacts on water resources. The scope of work is available here: http://metrocouncil.org/Transportation/Projects/Current-Projects/Southwest-LRT/Engineering/Water-Resources-Study.aspx
The independent analysis of freight rail alignments looked at previous studies and proposals. TranSystems reviewed many existing studies and designs, assessed the viability of those options and outlined a potential relocation alternative through St. Louis Park that will be subject to further study . The scope of work is available here: http://metrocouncil.org/Transportation/Projects/Current-Projects/Southwest-LRT/Engineering/Freight-Rail-Study.aspx
Project staff conducted a tree and vegetation inventory of the Kenilworth Corridor, which the Council also released today. The scope of work is available here: http://metrocouncil.org/Transportation/Projects/Current-Projects/Southwest-LRT/Engineering/Vegetation-Study.aspx
Consultants will present the draft reports at several public meetings:
* 2/3 Joint SWLRT Business and Community Advisory Committee Meeting
* 2/5 SWLRT Corridor Management Committee Meeting
* 2/5 Metropolitan Council Meeting
* 2/10 Minneapolis Town Hall Community Meeting (includes opportunities for public testimony)
* 2/12 St. Louis Park Town Hall Community Meeting (includes opportunities for public testimony)
More information on meeting dates, times and locations can be found at www.swlrt.org.
The public comment period on the draft reports will run from Jan. 30, 2014 to Feb. 21, 2014. Final reports are expected in early March. Public comment will be accepted via mail and e-mail, as well as at all public meetings during the comment period and via www.swlrt.org.
About the Project:
The Southwest Light Rail Transit (LRT) Project (Green Line Extension) will operate from downtown Minneapolis through the southwestern suburban cities of St. Louis Park, Hopkins, Minnetonka, and Eden Prairie, passing in close proximity to the City of Edina. The proposed alignment is primarily at-grade and includes 17 new stations and approximately 15.8-miles of double track. The line will connect major activity centers in the region including downtown Minneapolis, the Opus/Golden Triangle employment area in Minnetonka and Eden Prairie, Methodist Hospital in St. Louis Park, the Eden Prairie Center Mall, and the Minneapolis Chain of Lakes. Ridership in 2030 is projected at 29,660 weekday passengers. The project will interline with Central Corridor LRT (Green Line) which will provide a one-seat ride to destinations such as the University of Minnesota, state Capitol and downtown St. Paul. It will be part of an integrated system of transitways, including connections to the METRO Blue Line, the Northstar Commuter Rail line, a variety of major bus routes along the alignment, and proposed future transitway and rail lines. The Metropolitan Council will be the grantee of federal funds. The regional government agency is charged with building the line in partnership with the Minnesota Department of Transportation. The Southwest Corridor Management Committee, which includes commissioners from Hennepin County and the mayors of Minneapolis, St. Louis Park, Edina, Hopkins, Minnetonka, and Eden Prairie provides advice and oversight. Funding is provided by the Federal Transit Administration, Counties Transit Improvement Board (CTIB), state of Minnesota and Hennepin County Regional Railroad Authority (HCRRA). The Southwest LRT Project website is www.swlrt.org