SW LRT inconvenient truth: What’s best for stations is most important factor

The Met Council’s manipulative mishmash in the Southwest Light Rail decisionmaking has been tiresome. Last fall the extra couple hundred million dollars (either for onerous freight track design in St Louis Park or shallow tunnels in Minneapolis) was like ransom to the railroad or hush money to Kenilworth.

MetCouncil/MetroTransit has officially had the ball for well over a year. But it wasn’t until the Corridor Management Committee’s last meeting on March 12 that they were about to, finally, get down to discussing the real issues and tradeoffs: What’s best for the stations (and the daily thousands of people walking in/near them for decades, in both St Louis Park and Minneapolis), the reasons we’re investing in LRT in the first place, and learning from past mistakes.

Alas, the meeting had run long, and there wasn’t enough time. There was enough time, however, to allow a dozen railroad customers to say the same thing (which no one disagrees with): that safe, efficient freight rail shipping is important. There was also enough time to spring on everyone a sweetening of the Kenilworth hush-money pot, now deeper (even more expensive) shallow tunnels. If the almost-voted-on plan was bad, this would be even worse. So, let’s try again: It’s the stations, stupid!

Jeff Peltola is the founding president of Public Works for Public Good.

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