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City Council supports Southwest light-rail option that calls for relocating freight rail out of Kenilworth

March 7, 2014 (MINNEAPOLIS) Today, the City Council voted to maintain a longstanding City position involving the future of the proposed Southwest light-rail line in the narrow Kenilworth Corridor. By a unanimous vote, council members passed a resolution supporting a plan to move freight rail traffic out of the corridor and opposing any co-location of both light rail and freight rail in Kenilworth, which would include the proposal that calls for digging two “cut and cover” shallow tunnels for light-rail trains.  

“Along with reaffirming the City’s position on the future of the Kenilworth Corridor, I want to make it clear that we are all still strong supporters of the Southwest light-rail line,” says Mayor Betsy Hodges. “We will continue working with the Metropolitan Council in the hopes of finding a path forward for this important project. But we must proceed with the idea that both the benefits and the burdens of light-rail transit will be shared by all the cities along the line.”

“The proposal to move freight traffic out of Kenilworth is a cost-effective way to keep this important transit project alive," said Council President Barbara Johnson. "It’s also something we were promised  would happen when we agreed to bring light-rail to Kenilworth.”  

“The region is making a $1.5 billion investment in our shared future, and it’s our duty to make sure we get the most value for our money,” says Council Member Kevin Reich, who chairs the Transportation and Public Works committee. “There will be much more development potential along the light-rail line if freight rail is relocated. That’s great for maximizing this large investment and advancing local and regional growth goals.”

Plans call for the Southwest light-rail line, which would link downtown Minneapolis, St. Louis Park, Hopkins, Minnetonka and Eden Prairie, to run through the Kenilworth Corridor between Lake of the Isles and Cedar Lake. Longstanding agreements held that if this corridor was going to be used for light-rail transit, freight rail traffic there would be diverted to existing railroad lines in St. Louis Park.

Two viable plans are now on the table for Kenilworth: One calls for making railroad line improvements in St. Louis Park that would allow for the Kenilworth traffic to move there, the other calls for digging two “cut and cover” shallow tunnels in Kenilworth for light-rail transit without the relocation of freight rail. The Metropolitan Council plans to choose its preferred plan on April 9.

 

Published Mar 7, 2014