January meetings will give public chance to weigh in on Southwest light rail

Southwest light rail route
This map shows an overview of the proposed Southwest light rail route through the Kenwood neighborhood and along the Kenilworth Trail in Minneapolis, including the co-location of freight and passenger rail tracks, and the popular foot and bike path.
Courtesy of the Metropolitan Council

Citizens concerned about the future path of the Southwest light rail line in Minneapolis will soon get two chances to ask questions and learn more.

Meetings set for Jan. 7 and Jan. 9 will update the public on three studies underway examining the project's potential environmental effects on Minneapolis' scenic Kenilworth Corridor.

The embattled line hit a roadblock this fall as Minneapolis and St. Louis Park officials fought over its route. Minneapolis leaders objected to a plan, backed by a Metropolitan Council advisory group, to run trains in a shallow tunnel through the Kenilworth Corridor. In October, Gov. Mark Dayton intervened in the dispute and forced the Met Council to delay a final vote.

The delay bought extra time to answer questions from the public and seek other options to re-route existing freight trains, and to find out whether the tunnels would harm lakes.

The January meetings will let elected officials "hear how the public wants the three studies' results to influence final decisions," said Laura Baenen, Met Council communications manager for the light rail project.

More opportunities for public input are expected this winter, once the draft results of the studies are available, she said.

The Met Council will vote on project scope and budget after final reports are released. No dates have been announced for the release of the reports or future public meetings.

Planning officials have expressed concern that the delays jeopardize federal support in what would be the state's most expensive public works project — with a $1.55 billion price tag.

If you go:
Jan. 7: Kenwood Community Center, Minneapolis, 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 9: St. Louis Park Recreation Center, St. Louis Park, 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Learn more.

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