Judge Orders Met Council to Hand Over SWLRT Documents

The following article by Janet Moore was published in the May 17, 2016 on-line edition of the Star Tribune.

Judge Orders Met Council to Hand Over SWLRT Documents

The regional planning body has 15 days to release them. 

A federal judge ruled Tuesday that the Metropolitan Council must release documents related to negotiations that took place in planning the controversial $1.79 billion Southwest light-rail line.

A Minneapolis group called the Lakes and Parks Alliance, which opposes the project, filed suit in U.S. District Court nearly two years ago. The suit claims the 14.5-mile line violates federal law because a route was chosen before a thorough environmental review was done.

The alliance is particularly concerned about the line’s route through the Kenilworth corridor, a popular biking and pedestrian area near Minneapolis’ Chain of Lakes. The line is slated to connect downtown Minneapolis with Eden Prairie, beginning service in 2020.

The alliance requested various documents last year related to the Met Council’s “commitments and negotiations with cities along the line,” but the Met Council argued that the group was not entitled to the information and sought a protective order. That request was denied by a magistrate judge — and on Tuesday, Judge John Tunheim affirmed that order.

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Judge orders Met Council to hand over Southwest light-rail documents