Freight railway expansion worries some in St. Louis Park

A group of St. Louis Park residents worries there will be more noise and safety problems if freight rail traffic is routed near them.

The freight rail traffic would be moved from a route between Lake of the Isles and Cedar Lake to make way for the proposed Southwest Corridor light rail line from Minneapolis to the southwestern suburbs.

Hennepin County Commissioner Gail Dorfman said the issue is contentious but the county, the city and neighborhood residents are still talking.

"They've just begun discussions about mitigation measures that could make this situation better so they're really taking a close look at what are those safety, noise, vibration issues that would need to be addressed," she said.

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Construction of the $1.2 billion, 11-mile long Southwest light rail project is far from certain as the federal government and Minnesota, two essential funding partners, deal with budget problems.

Residents are asking Hennepin County officials to address problems created by the move.

Dorfman said mitigation includes creating a so-called quiet zone free of train whistles. A bigger expense is replacing existing tracks that curve.

"Is there a way to straighten it out and move it slightly so that it's a safer corridor? You don't really want those trains going around curves if you can avoid it," she said.

The meeting is at 6 p.m. at the St. Louis Park recreation center.