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SWLRT: Spring 2017 Update

by JeffStrate on May 15, 2017 · 0 comments


The new edition of Democratic Visions features an update on the funding status of Southwest Light Rail (SWLRT) from local sources and the Federal Transportation Administration. It’s complicated, but Met Council Member and public transit champion Jennifer Munt makes it understandable. Munt represents Met Council Dist. 3 which includes west metro cities in the Lake Minnetonka area including Eden Prairie and Minnetonka through which the Green Line extension and its passenger stations will be built.


I here share a few thoughts of my own. The snippy cult of opponents to the Southwest Light Rail project, based along what had been a freight rail line and switching yard between Cedar Lake and Lake of the Isles (Minneapolis), with its nuisance environmental law suit continues to generate copy for MinnPost and the StarTribune. The NIMBYs, some of whom are, reportedly, influential Democrats, are encouraged by Republican legislators including House Speaker Kurt Daudt, Senate President Michelle Fischbach, and transportation committee chairs Paul Torkelson, Linda Runbeck and Scott Newman. For their own purposes, these GOPers have deceitfully re-branded SWLRT into a wedge issue about the cost of light rail, funding priorities and urban/rural inequity. Their shenanigans have generated even more copy at MinnPost and The Strib whose news and editorial sections love to show renderings of various plans of the new bridge that will cross the channel between Lake of the Isles and Cedar Lake.  It’s as if Southwest Light Rail has no other importance.  Here’s one of those renderings.

One of several design plans that have been considered or the light rail transit bridge in the Kenilworth Corridor.

One of several design plans that have been considered for the light rail transit bridge in the Kenilworth Corridor.

Would that the photo editors at the StarTribune and MinnPost select other SWLRT images.  There are scores of them: stations, bridges, parking ramps and landscaping plans along the alignment through Minneapolis, St. Louis Park, Hopkins, Minnetonka and Eden Prairie. Believe it or not, the Green Line Extension beyond the Kenilworth Corridor actually edges North Minneapolis and penetrates job rich centers in the south west ‘burbs.  But maybe selecting images from a Met Council or city website on a desktop or laptop is really, really difficult, maybe even exhausting.  But maybe not.   I found these pics earlier today in about 15 minutes.



SWLRT Stations - N Mpls


The late spring edition of Democratic Visions features a discussion with transit equity advocate Kenya McKnight Ahad and myself on Southwest Light Rail, public transit and North Minneapolis.  There had been hopes that the Minnesota State Legislature would, before end-of-session, appropriate $135 million dollars for the project through bonding or at least pass a bill that would enable other agencies such as the Hennepin County Regional Railroad Authority to raise that amount.  That $135 million, the State’s comparatively small share of the $1.79 billion dollar project, is needed to complete a match to qualify Southwest Light Rail for $895 million dollars from the Federal Transit Administration.


Three Chambers of Commerce, the city councils of Minneapolis, St. Louis Park, Hopkins, Minnetonka and Eden Prairie and most of the neighborhoods along the planned alignment are now hoping that a special legislative session will provide the $135 million along with, of course, other transportation needs.  During transportation, transit and infrastructure bill manuverings in the Legislature and opposition by some folks along the Kenilworth Corridor in Minneapolis and the Claremont residential complex in Minnetonka, media discussion of the impact of light rail and improved bus transit on North Minneapolis has been non-existent. I argue that North Minneapolitans will have the most to lose should lawmakers fail to act positively.  During our discussion, Kenya McKnight Ahad advises that good transit studies and plans incorporating light rail and improved bus connections for North Minneapolis within its corner of the metro area and beyond already exist.  What doesn’t exist, Ahad says, is a dependable manner and commitment to fund the plans.  This segment runs about 22 minutes.


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North Minneapolis, transit equity and Southwest Light Rail –


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Democratic  Visions is hand made by unpaid volunteers from Edina, Eden Prairie, Minnetonka, Hopkins and Bloomington.  Our program is not financially supported or endorsed by any political party, political action committee or special interest group.


North Minneapolis transit forum: SW LRT

by JeffStrate on April 8, 2014 · 0 comments

A little after 3 pm on Wednesday April 9, the Met Council will consider a slightly revised recommendation for the scope and budget of the Southwest Light Rail Project.  When completed, the new light rail line will become the westerly length of what the Met Council has branded “The Green Line.” It will link St. Paul’s Union Station to Minneapolis, St. Louis Park, Hopkins, Minnetonka and Eden Prairie – and the hundreds of businesses and scores of communities along the line.


Over the past year, major regional media has obsessed on controversies prompted by recommendations by planning engineers and SWLRT project committees of citizens, businesses and municipal, county and state officials, to route light rail along an active freight line through the so called “Kenilworth Corridor.”


Hundreds of recreational and commuter bicyclers travel through corridor between Kenwood and Cedar Lake neighborhoods every day.


Teams of planners, consultants and citizens have addressed the challenges of co-locating freight, light rail and bike trails though what folks have understandably come to think of as a recreational area.  The prospect of moving the freight trains to St, Louis Park or Chaska has been rejected as unfeasible several times.


Former Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Ryback and frosh Mayor Betsy Hodges (in a SWLRT Project committee) have consistently argued against Kenilworth co-location plans calling for running LRT through covered tunnels hidden by the bike trail and vegetation.


With pinched sound bites and careless headlines, bolstered by hundreds of reader comments (caustic spitballs for the most part) in the Strib’s coverage, the Kenilworth controversy news wise has trumped all other aspects of the $1.6 billion project.



In the wake of Susan Haigh’s appointment as Chair of the Met Council, Dale Van Hattum and Jim Erkel argue in the Star Tribune (and you could even say plead) for intelligent growth in the metro area.  They claim it is essential for the future of Minnesota.  I agree with them completely.  There’s only one problem.

The chances of anything like it actually happening in the next two years are zero.

The reason is that the Republicans control the legislature.  These people believe global climate change is a hoax.  Their idea of a transportation plan is to build more and wider highways.  They also drastically underfunded the maintenance of our roads and bridges resulting in the I-35W bridge collapsing in Minneapolis.

High speed rail line connecting with anywhere?  Forget it.  Metro-wide comprehensive 21st century transportation plan?  That would require the ability to plan.