Met Council re-starts municipal consent process for SW LRT

The following press release has been issued by the Met Council:

Met Council initiates municipal consent process on revised preliminary design plans

MINNEAPOLIS – July 22, 2015 – After making $250 million in scope reductions recommended by communities on the planned Southwest LRT line in early July, the Metropolitan Council today approved reinitiating the municipal consent process.

While the corridor communities demonstrated strong support for the future METRO Green Line Extension by committing funds and suggesting reductions, the Council will again seek municipal consent from Hennepin County and the cities of Eden Prairie, Minnetonka, Hopkins, St. Louis Park and Minneapolis.

“The municipal consent hearings will be the public’s opportunity to comment on the preliminary design plans that were revised as a result of $250 million in scope reductions,” Metropolitan Council Chair Adam Duininck said. “Southwest LRT is a once-in-a-century project and reinitiating municipal consent is critical to ensuring that there is an opportunity for public and community response to the project’s current design.”

The Metropolitan Council/Hennepin County Board of Commissioners/Hennepin County Regional Railroad Authority (HCRRA) will jointly hold the first public hearing on the revised Southwest LRT preliminary design plans on Aug. 27. The five corridor cities will set their own hearing dates. The process must be completed between July 23 and Oct. 11.

The public comment portion of the Aug. 27 joint hearing will begin at 6 p.m. at Hennepin County’s Minneapolis Central Library, 300 Nicollet Mall, in Minneapolis. An open house where the public can review layouts will be held at 5 p.m. prior to the public hearing. Upon request, the Council will provide reasonable accommodations (i.e. sign language, an interpreter or assisted hearing equipment) to persons with disabilities. Please contact Nkongo Cigolo at 612-373-3825 or Nkongo.Cigolo@metrotransit.org at least seven days before the hearing to request assistance.

The Corridor Management Committee made up of elected officials throughout the corridor and others recommended making Southwest Station in Eden Prairie the westernmost stop, eliminating the original westernmost station at Mitchell Road, and deferring construction of Town Center Station. Plans for public art were eliminated, plans for landscaping and amenities off station platforms were reduced, parking spaces were trimmed from 3,834 to 2,487 and the opportunity for joint development deleted at Blake Station. The changes address the need to reduce project costs while maintaining strong ridership projections that will help secure federal funding. The 14.5-mile line with 15 stations is scheduled to open in 2020, and around 34,000 average weekday boardings are expected by 2040. For more details on the revised scope and cost estimate of $1.744 billion, see the July 8 news release: http://bit.ly/1Hs0HFn

Funding and next steps

The $1.744 billion cost estimate has more than $675 million in local funding commitments, including $496 million from the Counties Transit Improvement Board, $165 million from Hennepin County Regional Railroad Authority and more than $27 million in state funds.

Additional funding commitments are necessary. St. Louis Park, Hopkins, Minnetonka, and Hennepin County have already pledged an additional $12.5 million. The federal government is expected to fund half the project’s cost.

Other ways to comment

In addition to the public hearing, comments may also be submitted as follows:

* Written comments to: Southwest LRT Project Office, 6465 Wayzata Blvd., Ste. 500, St. Louis Park, MN 55426, ATTN: Nkongo Cigolo
* TTY: 651.291.0904
* E-mail comments to: swlrt@metrotransit.org
* Fax comments to: 612-373-3899

The Council will accept public comments until 4 p.m. Sept. 11, 2015.

Where to view the revised preliminary design plans

The revised preliminary design plans for the entire alignment will be available online starting July 23 under the Municipal Consent section http://www.metrocouncil.org/swlrt/municipal on the project’s website, www.swlrt.org

Print copies of the revised preliminary design plans for the entire alignment will be available starting on July 28 for review at the following locations:

* Hennepin County Minneapolis Central Library, 300 Nicollet Mall, Second Floor, Minneapolis, MN 55415
* Southwest LRT Project Office, 6465 Wayzata Blvd, Ste. 500, St. Louis Park, MN 55426
* MnDOT Transportation Library, 395 John Ireland Blvd., St. Paul, MN 55155
* Metropolitan Council Library, 390 Robert St. N., St Paul, MN 55101
* Edina City Hall (Courtesy Copy), 4801 W. 50th St., Edina, MN 55424

Minneapolis-only plan sets will be available starting on July 28 at:

* Minneapolis City Hall, Minneapolis City Engineer’s Office, Room 203, 350 S. 5th St., Minneapolis, MN 55415
* Franklin Library, 1314 E. Franklin Ave., Minneapolis, MN 55404
* Linden Hills Library, 2900 W. 43rd St., Minneapolis, MN 55410
* Minneapolis Central Library, (Entire corridor alignment available), 300 Nicollet Mall, Second Floor, Minneapolis, MN 55401
* Sumner Library, 611 Van White Memorial Blvd, Minneapolis, MN 55411
* Walker Library, 2880 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis, MN 55408

St. Louis Park-only plan sets will be available starting on July 28 at:

* St. Louis Park City Hall, 5005 Minnetonka Blvd, St. Louis Park, MN 55416
* St. Louis Park Library, 3240 Library Lane, St. Louis Park, MN 55426

Hopkins-only plan sets will be available starting on July 28 at:

* Hopkins City Hall, 1010 1st St. S., Hopkins, MN 55343
* Hopkins Library, 22 11th Ave. N., Hopkins, MN 55343

Minnetonka-only plan sets will be available starting on July 28 at:

* Minnetonka City Hall, 14600 Minnetonka Blvd, Minnetonka, MN 55345
* Minnetonka Library, 17524 Excelsior Blvd., Minnetonka, MN 55345

Eden Prairie-only plan sets will be available starting on July 28 at:

* Eden Prairie City Hall, 8080 Mitchell Rd., Eden Prairie, MN 55344
* Eden Prairie Library, 565 Prairie Center Dr., Eden Prairie, MN 55344

About the project:

The planned Southwest Light Rail Transit (LRT) Project (METRO Green Line Extension) will operate from downtown Minneapolis through the communities of St. Louis Park, Hopkins, Minnetonka, and Eden Prairie, passing in close proximity to the city of Edina. The line will connect major activity centers in the region including downtown Minneapolis, Methodist Hospital in St. Louis Park, downtown Hopkins and the Opus/Golden Triangle employment area in Minnetonka and Eden Prairie. Ridership in 2040 is forecasted at approximately 34,000 average weekday boardings.

The project will interline with the METRO 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 proposed METRO Blue Line Extension, 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) and other project partners.

The Southwest LRT Project website is www.swlrt.org