WCCO: Heated Debate Continues Over Southwest LRT Line

The following item was reported by Chris Simon on WCCO on February 11, 2014:

WCCO: Heated Debate Continues Over Southwest LRT Line

Nearly 100 people showed up Monday night at Dunwoody College of Technology to react to plans for a 16 mile, $1.5 billion dollar light rail line through Kenilworth, St. Louis Park, Hopkins and ending in Eden Prairie.

Many were in favor of the plan, and put vocal pressure on other communities to “sacrifice” as they are.  There were however those against the plan.

“We should continue to push the pause button on Southwest LRT”, said Minneapolis resident George Puzack, who believes it is an environmental mistake to build shallow tunnels for the trains to pass through the lakes area.  “There are too many gaps in the shallow tunnel proposal. The vegetation to the west of the freight rail line will get bulldozed.  The rail road tracks will be moved to the west 10 to 40 feet, and there will be no re-vegetation because of the 25-foot setback between the center lines.”

Supporters of the light rail, like Dick Adair of the Bryn Mawr neighborhood, favor compromise.  “We cannot afford to be ‘Balkanized’ and divide into separate warring groups,” Adair said.

Once opened, the 16-mile, $1.5 billion line would take commuters from Minneapolis to Eden Prairie. But what to do with the area’s freight traffic is an issue that has divided Minneapolis and St. Louis Park residents.

“We’ve had our neighborhoods broken apart, homes removed. I believe that St Louis Park should live by its agreements and they should have the freight traffic go through their area,” said Roger Clark of the Bryn Mawr neighborhood.

Some like Shelly of Minneapolis were not satisfied with the positive reports, who said while they address freight and water issues from everyday use, emergencies are not covered.

“No one has analyzed what would be the impact if there were a derailment,” she said.

Still the main issue is how to reroute freight traffic that uses much of the proposed line, especially through St. Louis Park, which would have to take on more traffic.  Bruce Barry of Bryn Mawr said life is compromise.

“Some of us might have to sacrifice in one way or another, but will get gains too, one way or the other.  We need this light rail line,” he said.