The following commentary by Chris Johnson was posted on the Minneapolis Issues List
(firstname.lastname@example.org) on September 17, 2015. Chris Johnson is a Fulton resident and a Co-founder of Park Watch.
Regarding the SWLRT Minneapolis Municipal Consent Hearing
Something else I’ve never understood is why the various governmental entities involved just rolled over and played dead when confronting the Twin Cities & Western Railroad that operates through Kenilworth. Sure, _existing_ federal law grants railroads far too much latitude to operate with impunity in communities across the country. (There ought to be organized lobbying by municipalities, if not states themselves, to change those laws.)Be that as it may, however, we still seem to have a lot of leverage. Hennepin County owns that land outright and made the temporary(!) agreement with TC&W to route on that land (http://www.stlouispark.org/pdf/freight_rail_realignment_study.pdf), back prior to 1999.
Moreover, TC&W’s sister company operates on track owned by the Minnesota Valley Regional Rail Authority, a cooperative venture among the 5 counties through which the line runs.
If the state of Minnesota and/or Hennepin County really wanted to play hardball with TC&W, it seems like they could, as much of their profitability is based upon using government (taxpayer)-owned land.