The most complex station in the Southwest Light Rail project will begin construction in earnest this spring, bringing large machinery and worker presence to West Lake Street.
The West Lake Street station is the westernmost Minneapolis stop in the project and will be located below the Lake Street bridge, behind Whole Foods and adjacent
to the Midtown Greenway.
“This spring you will start to see heavy construction in this area,” David Davies, SWLRT’s outreach coordinator for Minneapolis, told the West Calhoun Neighborhood Council.
For now, utility workers are trying to complete work that will allow for heavier construction to begin in the spring. When that work starts, Chowen and Abbott avenues will be dead-ended to create a large construction area for the station in front of the Midtown Greenway, which will remain open. The two streets currently loop around several apartment buildings, including Calhoun Towers, and are technically connected by West 31st Street. Chowen Avenue will still be connected to West 32nd Street, and Abbott Avenue will maintain access to Excelsior Boulevard.
Many at the meeting asked if the city had plans to help residents who park along the street there find new accommodations during and after construction, but city officials said there are no plans in place to replace public, on-street parking. Once the train is running, the city may dole out permits to local residents to prevent people from using the area for on-street parking access to the Green Line.
Metro Transit and Minneapolis Public Works officials said there would be no lane reductions on West Lake Street while Cedar Lake Parkway is closed this spring and summer.
Davies said residents in the area will likely hear a noise and feel some vibrations during construction. The Met Council has monitors for both noise and vibration in place, but the agency has learned from its work in the Kenilworth Corridor that people can feel vibrations that engineers do not believe will cause structural damage.
“You’re going to feel something, but we don’t expect any damage as a result,” Davies said.
Along with expanded activity for SWLRT, two more major projects are expected to break ground in the area this spring: the large addition coming to Calhoun Towers and a new hotel and condominium building at the site of the current BP gas station at Lake & Excelsior.
Paul Miller, Minneapolis Public Works’ liaison to the SWLRT project, said the hotel and condo building replacing the BP will be doing all of its work on site and won’t block lanes on Lake Street this year.
Work on the Lake Street bridge will likely not begin until 2021, project officials said. Travel lanes will shrink slightly on the bridge and a new protective railing for pedestrians will be added. The station will be accessible from elevators and stairs on both sides of the bridge and will also serve as the westernmost stop of the planned B Line arterial bus rapid transit project.