During recent weeks, there has been finger pointing and public dismay with the Southwest Light Rail (SWLRT) and freight rail projects emanating from Minneapolis and St. Louis Park. This is what happens when those in power affix themselves to a plan — even when there is ample evidence to demonstrate the plan was ill conceived from the first.
The SWLRT ideally brings persons not only to and from Eden Prairie and downtown Minneapolis but to recreational areas, employers, people and businesses along the way. This will not happen on the Kenilworth route. Moreover, the Kenilworth route may not be achievable.
First, there was an assumption that the TC&W railroad, which uses the freight tracks, could leave Kenilworth and operate on a re-route through St. Louis Park. However the sharp curves and steep grade changes on the extant tracks will not work for heavy, 100-car-plus freight trains. Second, there is no agreement in place which mandates St. Louis Park to accept the re-route. Third, Kenwood residents were led to believe by the Hennepin County Commission that freight trains would abandon the Kenilworth corridor to be replaced by light rail.
There is a plan that will eliminate many of the obstacles and objections to the current plan. Known as the “C” alternative, a better plan is to run the light rail on the Midtown Greenway. The concerns of St. Louis Park and its residents would be resolved, and Kenwood residents would avoid the co-location of light rail and freight rail in the Kenilworth corridor.
Yes, there will be costs and expenses for remediation, improvements and betterments in the “C” alternative, but not substantially different from the current plan. Shame on county and municipal governments when a mistake can be corrected but hubris prevents doing the more sensible alternative.
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