Understanding on SWLRT Kenilworth Channel Crossing Reached Between Metropolitan Council and Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board

The following press release was issued on February 27, 2015 by the MPRB.

 Understanding on SWLRT Kenilworth Channel Crossing Reached Between Metropolitan Council and Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board

Metropolitan Council Chair Adam Duininck and Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board President Liz Wielinski announced today that the two agencies reached an understanding on the Southwest Light Rail Transit (Green Line Extension) crossing of the Kenilworth Channel.

With its engineering studies complete, Park Board staff and legal counsel are recommending to Park Board Commissioners support of a light rail transit bridge over the channel.  The agencies have an agreed upon memorandum of understanding (MOU) that provides for a more direct Park Board role in the design of the proposed bridges over the channel and earlier involvement in any light rail transit project to address impacts to park land and park resources owned by the Park Board.

“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,” said Council Chair Adam Duininck. “The Council is pleased to have the Park Board’s support for bridging the channel.”

Tunnel options evaluated by Park Board and Council project engineers would significantly add cost and time to complete the project. Increased involvement from the Park Board as bridge designs are advanced will inform the designs and help maintain the park-like setting throughout the corridor.

”We have received a lot of new information this month from our consultants and the Metropolitan Council. 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. “Our thanks go to Chair Duininck for his leadership in moving this forward.”

Duininck noted that the Council agreed to pay the Park Board 50 percent of the engineering costs, not to exceed $250,000, incurred during the Park Board’s exploration of additional tunnel options because the work will be incorporated in the Council’s environmental documentation and analysis. The Council will benefit from analysis conducted by the Park Board commissioned engineering study to further evaluate tunnel alternatives under the channel.  This information will help inform the 4(f) analysis that will be addressed in the Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SDEIS) and the final 4(f) analysis.

The MOU calls for the Metropolitan Council to:
  • Work together with the Park Board on design considerations offered by the Park Board in the final engineering and design of the bridges over the Kenilworth Channel;
  • Change project office policy to engage the Park Board more directly in the Southwest LRT project and earlier in any light rail projects that involve park land.
The MOU calls for the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board to
  • Work with Metropolitan Council earlier in the planning process to identify potential Section 4(f) impacts for park and recreational areas within its jurisdiction;
  • Collaborate more closely with the Council on design principles and final design and engineering of the bridges over the Kenilworth Channel.

The memorandum of understanding regarding the environmental review process, design principles and increased Park Board collaboration on current and future light rail projects can be found as an attachment to Resolution 2015-139 on the Park Board’s March 4 agenda. The letter committing the Council to pay 50 percent of the Park Board’s engineering costs to date is also attached to Park Board Resolution 2015-139.

The Metropolitan Council is the regional planning organization for the seven-county Twin Cities area. It runs the regional bus and light rail system, including Northstar Commuter Rail, collects and treats wastewater, manages regional water resources, plans regional parks, and administers funds that provide housing opportunities for low- and moderate-income individuals and families. The Council is appointed by and serves at the pleasure of the Governor.

The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board is an independent, semi-autonomous body responsible for maintaining and developing the Minneapolis Park system.  With 251 park properties totaling 6,790 acres of land and water, the Park Board provides places and recreation opportunities for all people to gather and engage in activities that promote health, well-being, community and the environment.  More than 21 million annual visits are made to the nationally acclaimed park system. Park Board Commissioners are elected by Minneapolis residents.