The following press release, dated July 7, 2015, has been issued by Representative Linda Runbeck,chair of the House Subcommittee Metropolitan Council Accountability and Transparency.
RUNBECK STATEMENT ON UPCOMING SOUTHWEST LIGHT-RAIL VOTE
ST. PAUL – Rep. Linda Runbeck (R-Circle Pines), chair of the House Subcommittee Metropolitan Council Accountability and Transparency, issued the following statement ahead of the Metropolitan Council’s vote on the proposed Southwest Light Rail Transit line.
“The most recent plan to build the proposed Southwest Light Rail Transit line poses a multitude of problems. Between environmental concerns, public safety issues, and the unknown liability to taxpayers, I urge the Met Council to reject this ill-conceived plan to move forward with the Southwest Light Rail Transit line,” said Runbeck. “I’m particularly concerned about the state potentially being on the hook to cover the operating costs given that the changes may result in lower ridership.”
The Metropolitan Council is also facing legal challenges with potential impact on the project. Specifically, one of the lawsuits brought by the Lakes and Parks Alliance of Minneapolis asserts that the council violated state and federal law by proceeding to get municipal consent and undertaking advance planning for a single route before the final environment impact statement was on file.
The route as currently proposed includes co-location of freight and light rail in the Kenilworth Corridor. Co-location was not part of the original plan proposed by Hennepin County and raises many environmental and safety issues (ethanol trains, construction hazards, deforesting, dewatering, etc.).
“At the very least, we need a complete, transparent, and accountable final environmental impact statement before even considering committing further taxpayer dollars to this project,” said Runbeck.