Southwest LRT alignment discussions continue

About the only thing that is for sure about the proposed Southwest Light-rail Transit (LRT) line is that it is on track to connect the southern suburbs with Downtown.

Everything else has yet to be decided.

Riders and deciders are eyeing four possible routes:

• Routes 1 and 2 are essentially the same. Both would begin outside the future Target (Twins) Stadium, and then run south along the Kenilworth Bike Trail, split Southwest’s Chain of Lakes before heading to Eden Prairie, where they would end at a hub south of the city.

• Route 3 would begin at 4th Street & Hiawatha in Downtown, head south past Nicollet’s “Eat Street” restaurants, until heading west along Lake Street, through Uptown, and again, end in the burbs.

The first three proposed routes would eventually make the turn toward Eden Prairie at a station to be located just west of Lake Calhoun.

However, a recently proposed fourth option would run from Downtown, head south along Portland and possibly Park Avenues, and then west along the Midtown Greenway.

Neighborhoods affected

In order to get to the suburbs, the electric trains would have to speed through Southwest Minneapolis neighborhoods, which has sparked debate. Depending on the route, the proposed alignments could affect Cedar-Isles-Dean, Kenwood, Bryn Mawr, East Isles, the Wedge, Whittier and Stevens Square.

Chances to chime in

A public comment session was held Oct. 14 in St. Louis Park, however, you’ll have another chance to participate in the discussion for the rail’s alignment at a meeting held Thursday, Oct. 23 at Eden Prairie City Hall, 8080 Mitchell Road. It will begin with a 5 p.m. open house, followed by a 6 p.m. hearing.

The hearing will also be streamed online at www.southwesttransitway.org/.

If you can’t make it to the meeting, public comment on the proposed rail line will continue to be taken until Nov. 7. You can submit your comments electronically at [email protected]

A final decision on which alignment the Southwest LRT line will take is expected to be made by late spring or summer. The $1 billion-plus project will tentatively be built by 2015. The train would be funded from four sources: the transit sales tax in the metro area (30 percent), the Hennepin County Regional Railroad Authority (10 percent), the state of Minnesota (10 percent), and the Federal Transit Administration (up to 50 percent).

The Southwest LRT line will connect to other rail lines (Hiawatha, Central, Northstar) and high-frequency bus routes from Downtown to the southern suburbs.