Regarding the letter titled “A Different Perspective on the SW LRT issues,” I am so pleased to see coverage of this important topic and the decisions that will affect the “landscape” of SW Minneapolis for years to come.
This portion of the LRT route under the most debate right now is known as the Kenilworth Corridor or Kenilworth Greenway.
To recap for those who are still getting up to speed on this very confusing proposed project, there are currently eight options under consideration by the Met Council. Six of those eight options involve keeping the freight that currently runs on the greenway and ADDING the LRT to that greenway — these
options are known as co-location.
These options are in direct conflict with what the City of Minneapolis agreed to with the Met Council — that is, that freight MUST leave the corridor for the LRT to come on to the corridor — but those six options are all possibilities in the final recommendation from the Met Council. The proposals to “relocate” the freight to St. Louis Park have citizens of that city up in arms.
If freight and LRT are “co-located,” the Kenilworth Greenway will disappear entirely, or be modified in such a way as to not even resemble the safe and direct path that exists today. The Kenilworth Greenway is a critical route for bicycling commuters, and unfortunately most of them and the other more than 650,000 annual Kenilworth trail users are not aware of these plans. The source for this number is the 2012 Minneapolis Bicyclist and Pedestrian Count Report.
In addition, if freight and LRT are co-located, it will result in the forced taking and demolition of 57 townhomes as well as other properties (a loss of
$15–20 million to the property tax base).
A lot of people are getting really excited about the idea of a deep bore tunnel through the Kenilworth Greenway. But numerous public officials, including Councilpersons Lisa Goodman and Sandra Colvin Roy, have cautioned citizens to be wary of the promise of a tunnel, as past promises of tunnels on other lines have resulted in the LRT ending up “at grade” (at street level). The grassroots group that I am working with (LRT Done Right), would be thrilled with the notion that the LRT would run in a tunnel, if it was environmentally and fiscally possible and guaranteed at the outset.
The conundrum around pursuing the tunnel study, is that the decision for either freight “co-location” or “relocation” will be made by the end of the summer by the Met Council, well in advance of results and related cost estimates from any such study.
We join the City of Minneapolis, the Minneapolis Park Board, the Cedar Lake Park Association, the Kenwood Isles Area Association, and the Cedar-Isles-Dean Neighborhood Association in strongly opposing the option of at-grade co-location. Furthermore, if a deep tunnel is proposed and accepted as the “solution” to co-location of freight and LRT, guarantees must be made that at no point in the future will freight and LRT be co-located at grade, regardless of the results of future studies and budget constraints.