Minneapolis City Council approves Southwest LRT

MinnPost file photo by Bill Kelley
The 16-mile extension of the Green Line between Minneapolis and Eden Prairie could start service by 2019.

The Minneapolis City Council Friday became the last city on the route of the Southwest Light Rail Transit project to give its formal consent to the alignment. 

After some confusion as to which council members were supporting which aspect of the complex set of memoranda, resolutions and staff directions, the final vote on municipal consent was 10-3. Voting no were council members Barbara Johnson, Cam Gordon and Lisa Goodman.

Even those voting yes, though, offered explanations as to why a no vote could have been the result as well. Council members repeated concerns about the route; the threats to the environment in the Chain of Lakes area; the doubts as to whether what has been dubbed the “Equity Train” will actually serve people of color in North Minneapolis; and whether the council should be acting before a revised environmental impact statement is released.

But the 10 yes voters, at least those who spoke, said moving ahead with the latest expansion of light rail transit is an important regional project. And they said they believed that the various side agreements with the Metropolitan Council and directions to staff to closely monitor the pending supplemental environmental impact statement — along with promises to address equity concerns — will protect the city in the future.

“We made a very clear statement that we will stop this train if it threatens our city’s, our region’s, environmental resources,” said Council Member Lisa Bender.

The most vociferous opponent was Goodman, who represents the city ward taking on most of the ill-effects of the alignment. “Ultimately this is about what we can afford and what we can’t afford,” said Goodman. “What we can’t afford, in my opinion, is the self-inflicted damage of this alignment, surrendering to pressures to act against our own cty’s best interests.”

Mayor Betsy Hodges challenged the Met Council to make good on verbal commitments to address concerns that the transit system doesn’t treat people of color equally. “The Met Council characterizes this as an Equity Train but that is beyond inaccurate,” Hodges said. “Until the Met Council makes concrete decisions and takes actions on those decisions, this is a train and by no means is it an Equity Train.”

The supplemental EIS is due early next year. A statement issued by the Met Council staff said “anyone, including cities and the public, will have an opportunity to comment on the SDEIS.” If substantial changes need to be made to the design, the Met Council “would have to seek further municipal consent as appropriate under state law.”

The 16-mile extension of the Green Line between Minneapolis and Eden Prairie could start service by 2019.

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Comments (5)

  1. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 08/29/2014 - 02:05 pm.

    My advice

    Let’s move forward and not speak of this again. Every time MPLS talks about this they come across as… well, let’s just move on.

  2. Submitted by Ryan Scott on 08/29/2014 - 02:13 pm.

    Queue the GOP…

    Trashing the need and value for light rail…

    ..as they hop on it to watch the Twins game.

  3. Submitted by Connie Sullivan on 08/30/2014 - 10:48 am.

    What confounds the public is how a City Council can fairly unanimously speak against a measure, and yet pass it. All the doubts, all the hesitations, all the questions unanswered, all the negative facts, and still ten of the thirteen bow to pressures to “act now, or time will pass us by.”

    Bring on the law suits!

    • Submitted by David Greene on 08/31/2014 - 10:04 am.

      Simple

      It’s quite simple, really. They voted yes because they know the line is a huge benefit to the city. If they really believed it would be bad for the city they’d vote against it.

      All of the talk, all of the hand-wringing, all of the cognitive dissonance is for the benefit of the rich and influential.

      • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 09/01/2014 - 08:54 am.

        Correct Mr. Greene

        We’re turning MPLS into a regional transit hub, they’re the only city in the state with three LR lines (they’ve already got the Blue line, and the Green Line from St. Paul, now they’ll have a line from the SW) and a commuter rail connection. A rail corridor that’s been a rail corridor for 100 years is remaining a rail corridor, a freight rail that’s been there for 17 years is staying there with without any properties having to be demolished, or traffic disrupted. They’re getting a light rail line exactly where they agreed to have it years ago. People from all over the city will gain easier access to the Cedar Lake area, and thousands of people will have fast, more affordable, and reliable transport to and from the city’s core. And aside from their portion of Henn Co. taxes, the city is getting all of this free of charge. AND $30-$50 million have been set aside to mitigate any concerns that may arise along the route in MPLS. Such a bitter pill to swallow it is for these poor hapless council members and Mayor. They have my deepest sympathies. I for one will never forget the city’s painful sacrifice on behalf of regional transit.

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