Category Archives: Southwest LRT

Posts related to the park impacts of the Southwest LRT

LETTER REGARDING THE MET COUNCIL AND SWLRT

LETTER REGARDING THE MET COUNCIL AND SWLRT

The following letter by Stuart A. Chazin has been sent to the U.S. Department of Transportation regarding the Met Council and SWLRT.

VIA FACSIMILE: reginald.arkell@dot.gov spencer.stevens@dot.gov

November 6th, 2016

I am writing to offer my experience and overview of the Metropolitan Council in relation to the proposed SWLRT. The irony for many of us is that the Met Council is an un-elected body whom answer only the governor. Consequently, his agenda and theirs, seems to come at the cost to the citizens of this state.

They have proven with this transit project an absolute breach of power, ignoring the DEIS, SDEIS and FEIS, for the greater goal of getting this line built in spite of the environmental damages it will cause.

There has been an overall lack of transparency with this project. The Met Council has consistently ignored public input, choosing a corridor where expensive and damaging tunnels are necessary, only to push through their agenda of getting this train no matter the cost.

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It’s Long Past Time to Make the Met Council Accountable to the Public

The following commentary by Matt Look, Randy Maluchnik, Nancy Schouweiler and Jon Ulrich was published in the October 1, 2016 edition of the StarTribune.

Matt Look is an Anoka County commissioner. Randy Maluchnik is a Carver County commissioner. Nancy Schouweiler is a Dakota County commissioner. Jon Ulrich is a Scott County commissioner.

It’s Long Past Time to Make the Met Council Accountable to the Public

‘I overruled him.” Overruled. That’s the term Gov. Mark Dayton used to describe how a recent, hastily-assembled Southwest Light Rail funding plan came together. The pronoun “him” referred to Metropolitan Council Chair Adam Duininck. This, despite earlier assurances from Duininck that such a plan was a “bad option” and he did not want to move SWLRT forward without legislative approval.

Why is this cause for concern?

Do the non-elected Metropolitan Council’s chair and members really have autonomy, or do they feel compelled to comply with the wishes of the person who appointed them — the governor? From the looks of it, they fell in line with the governor’s wishes and approved the Certificates of Participation to move SWLRT forward without the Legislature’s OK.

For us, leaders who along with our fellow County Board members represent more than 1 million people in Anoka, Carver, Dakota and Scott counties, the fact that Dayton has demonstrated that he can call the shots on important decisions being made by his appointees on the Metropolitan Council amplifies the need to reformulate this body to allow locally elected officials to serve as members.

To continue reading, click on the link to the Star Tribune
It’s long past time to make the Met Council accountable 

Park Board Moves Forward ith Wirth Sports Center Despite Union Concern

The following article by Eric Best was published and updated on September 8, 2016 in the Southwest Journal.

The Trailhead rendering courtesy of the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board

The Trailhead rendering courtesy of the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board

Park Board Moves Forward ith Wirth Sports Center Despite Union Concern

Several protestors were removed from the contentious meeting.

Police removed 10 people from a Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board meeting Wednesday night for disrupting commissioners.

Of the 10 people, four were cited, including three for disorderly conduct for disturbing a meeting and one for obstructing the legal process or arrest, according to a park spokeswoman.

The removals come after months of disruptions from protestors, who have at times called for the resignations of board leaders and have been critical of the board’s hiring practices concerning people of color. This summer meetings have regularly gone into recess while audience members chant or interrupt commissioners.

President Anita Tabb asked park police to remove four people for yelling while she read rules regarding the board’s open time period, which went on for over an hour even though speakers were limited to one minute at the dais.

To continue reading, click on the link to the Southwest Journal

Park Board moves forward with Wirth sports center despite union …

Dayton Pushes SWLRT Funding Solution

The following article by Dylan Thomas was published and updated in the September 9, 2016 Southwest Journal.

Dayton Pushes SWLRT Funding Solution

Stopgap would replace state dollars with county and Met Council funds.

Gov. Mark Dayton and Metropolitan Council Chair Adam Duininck unveiled their stopgap funding solution for Southwest light rail Thursday.

Gov. Mark Dayton and Metropolitan Council Chair Adam Duininck unveiled their stopgap funding solution for Southwest light rail Thursday.

Facing a potential idling of the Southwest Light Rail Transit project next month, Gov. Mark Dayton and Metropolitan Council Chair Adam Duininck on Thursday unveiled a stopgap funding solution to keep the $1.86-billion project on track.

The plan involves Met Council, the Counties Transit Improvement Board and Hennepin County partnering to contribute an additional $144.5-million to the project. That amount would cover the state’s unfulfilled 10-percent commitment to the 14.5-mile extension of the Metro Green Line between Minneapolis and Eden Prairie, plus additional costs incurred due to delays.

The public meeting on Thursday included many critical of Southwest light rail, but they appeared to be outnumbered by supporters.The public meeting on Thursday included many critical of Southwest light rail, but they appeared to be outnumbered by supporters.

“I believe this project is in the best interests of the metropolitan region, I believe it’s in the best interests of Minnesota and it is very important that it go forward,” Dayton said Thursday. He said the plan was hammered-out in an eight-hour meeting in his office just the day before.

Met Council is poised to submit its application for a $928.5-million Federal Transit Administration grant meant to cover half the cost of SWLRT, but it needs to shore-up local financial commitments first. Duininck said he was “cautiously optimistic” the boards of all three bodies would approve the plan — which involves the sale of certificates of participation, a form of government financing similar to bonding — by Wednesday.

To continue reading, click on the link to the Southwest Journal.

Dayton pushes SWLRT funding solution | Southwest Journal

Funding for Southwest LRT: If it Looks Like Debt, is it Debt?

The following article by Janet Moore was published in the September 6, 2016 issue of the Star Tribune.

Funding for Southwest LRT: If it Looks Like Debt, is it Debt?

As that great baseball player Yogi Berra once said, “It’s like déjà vu all over again.”

It seemed that way last week when the Metropolitan Council adopted a plan to issue $103.5 million in “certificates of participation” (COPs) to help pay for the $1.9 billion Southwest light-rail project.

Because state lawmakers failed to fund their anticipated share of the project, the Met Council was left scrambling for cash. The project faced imminent shutdown — and with $140 million already spent on it.

This isn’t the first time that certificates of participation have been suggested for the project linking Minneapolis and Eden Prairie. Talk surfaced two summers ago and has lingered ever since.

The Met Council first floated the idea as a stopgap measure after failing to win state financial support for Southwest during the 2015 legislative session.

At the time, Rep. Tim Kelly, a Republican from Red Wing who chaired the House transportation committee, wrote to Met Council Chair Adam Duininck, questioning whether the body could legally issue the certificates. After the two met, Kelly said he was assured they were legal but continued to have many concerns. (The Met Council used COPs to renovate its St. Paul headquarters a few years ago.)

To continue reading, click on the link to the Star Tribune

Funding for Southwest LRT: If it looks like debt, is it debt?

Two Letters to the Editor Critical of SWLRT

What particularly bothers this voter — and I would suspect many others — is “legislation by exhaustion.” The recent decision of multiple governmental agencies to patch together funding for the Southwest light rail line is a scenario we have witnessed in the past. The inevitable moving forward of this project follows multiple legislative sessions in which the Legislature voted against it or found it without merit to act upon it. The previous most glaring examples of this are the Twins and Vikings stadiums. In each case, professional politicians who had made premature promises kept these projects alive in the face of the democratic process. No, no, not worth considering, no, not worth considering, then, magically, the project moves forward.

The unelected Metropolitan Council is funding part of the Southwest line in a way its chairman said it would never do. That’s dishonest. The Hennepin County Board has blindly favored Southwest light rail despite the rational opposition of environmental and routing concerns and even as capital costs have swollen to $2 billion. “Legislation by exhaustion” disregards the democratic process and is an affront to every voter.

Rick Greenfield, Minnetonka

• • •

It is almost amusing to see the photo rendering, which has run on these pages, of the cute little Southwest light-rail train crossing a modern low-profile bridge in an idyllic setting. Nothing could be further from the truth. The new bridge will have to accommodate freight rail, light rail coming and going, plus biking and walking paths.

Because of the developing concerns over liability, each of these functions will have to be separated one from the other, and the entire area will have to be fenced or otherwise sealed off from the general public. Beyond the bridge, the corridor itself will likely be fenced to protect the lines from wildlife (deer), pets and people. It’s going to be a lot of wires, cables, fencing, lights, whistles and blast walls. Nothing like the cute little pictures the Metropolitan Council sends out.

Jerry Van Amerongen, Minneapolis

Southwest Light Rail is Transit Done Wrong, at Enormous Cost

The following commentary by Mary Pattock,  a board member of the Lakes and Parks Alliance of Minneapolis, was published in the Star Tribune on September 1, 2016.

Southwest Light Rail is Transit Done Wrong, at Enormous Cost

The sensible things to do: Stop, cut losses, look for alternatives.

Anyone “following the money” on Southwest LRT quickly arrives at the front door of the CEOs and developers who showed up en masse at Gov. Mark Dayton’s meeting last week.

What’s not for them to like about the project? They’d get a fantastically expensive public utility running up to their front door, and they’d get it free — thanks to Minnesota taxpayers. One wonders if they’d still be on board if they had to pay their fair share, say, a surtax on the increased profits and property values they expect to enjoy if it is built.

Southwest light rail is not your garden-variety government project. At $1.9 billion, it’s the most expensive public works project in Minnesota history. Its 14.5-mile route would cost twice as much as the Vikings stadium and two and a half times as much as the $720 million New Horizons space probe to Pluto.

To continue reading, click on the link to the Star Tribune

Southwest light rail is transit done wrong, at enormous cost

Why Oppose Southwest Light Rail?

Here is an excellent video produced by Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson.

Why Oppose Southwest Light Rail?


During the past few months I’ve had many people (Republicans and Democrats alike) ask me why so many of us are opposed to Southwest Light Rail. I’ve found when I provide a short explanation many of these same people are surprised by the actual facts about Southwest and are hearing them for the first time. So, in the interest of public education and substantive debate, I’ve put this short explanation on camera. Take a look:

Funding Now Appears Assured for Controversial Southwest LRT

The following article by Janet Moore was published in the September 1, 2016 issue of the Star Tribune.

Funding Now Appears Assured for Controversial Southwest LRT

Extra funds are needed because the state did not fully fund the controversial LRT project. 

Over the past week, transit planners in the Twin Cities have cobbled together $145 million to salvage the Southwest light-rail line, providing a level of certainty to a project that has long been fraught with controversy.

“We will have a project,” declared Adam Duininck, chairman of the Metropolitan Council, which is spearheading the $1.9 billion light-rail line from downtown Minneapolis to Eden Prairie.

After the project failed to win financial support from a bitterly divided Legislature, the 14.5-mile line was fast running out of cash, facing staff layoffs, possible shutdown and a flagging reputation with the federal government, which is expected to pay half its cost.

On Wednesday, the Met Council threw the project a critical lifeline — approving a new funding plan that deploys an obscure financial tool called “certificates of participation” to raise $103.5 million. The Counties Transit Improvement Board (CTIB), which consists largely of elected officials from metro-area counties, and the Hennepin County Regional Railroad Authority each agreed this week to kick in an additional $20.5 million, as well.

Still, some uncertainty lingers — a lawsuit filed by Minneapolis residents seeking to block the project is pending in federal court.

To continue reading, click on the link to the Star Tribune

Funding now appears assured for controversial Southwest LRT