Skip to Content

Support MinnPost

Dayton plays hardball with Minneapolis Parks Board

Gov. Mark Dayton
MinnPost photo by Briana Bierschbach
Gov. Mark Dayton: “In my view, if they have all this money to hire consultants … they don’t need all the state money that’s been allocated to them.”

It was one of the most prevalent rumors among opponents of the approved alignment for Southwest Light Rail.

Gov. Mark Dayton, the rumor went, had told members of the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board and their senior staff that resistance to the approved route, through the Kenilworth Corridor, would cost the board state funds.

Whether Dayton, a light rail supporter, had actually made the threat before or not, he did exactly what the rumor promised he would do Tuesday. In releasing his state budget proposal, Dayton said he would reduce state support for the Minneapolis park system — because of the board’s ongoing resistance to the alignment.

Dayton was nothing if not transparent about the move. The budget materials given to reporters before the late-morning briefing stated that the total of $3.77 million in reductions to the Park Board over the two-year budget period was due to “the Board’s continuing efforts to obstruct progress on the Southwest Light Rail Transit project.”

Of the total, $1.26 million would have come out of the state general fund and $2.51 million out of the natural resources fund, money intended to help the Met Council and 10 local park agencies develop and maintain parks that are regional destinations (think Minnehaha Falls). The money that would be lost by the Minneapolis board goes toward annual operating costs.

When asked about it, Dayton said it was possible he would support restoring the money — if the Park Board ended it opposition. “In my view, if they have all this money to hire consultants … they don’t need all the state money that’s been allocated to them.” Dayton said. He described the board’s actions so far as “very irresponsible.”

By threatening to challenge the route with federal transit administrators, the board risks putting the Twin Cities behind others competing for federal rail dollars, Dayton said. “They shouldn't be compensated by the taxpayers of Minnesota for causing this kind of mayhem.”

In a statement, Park Board President Liz Wielinski said she was dismayed at the governor’s budget proposal and objected to his painting the board as obstructionist. “I am extremely disappointed that the governor wants to punish the Park Board and more than 15 million users of  regional parks in Minneapolis because the Met  Council did not do their job in their pursuit of taking park land,” Wielinski said.

The board has taken several actions over the past three months to prepare a legal challenge under federal laws that prohibit federally funded transportation projects from taking parkland or historic sites. In September, the board hired the law firm of Stinson Leonard Street to advise it on federal law. In November, it hired the engineering firm of Brierley Associates, and has so far spent $493,775 to have the firm look into alternatives to the current Southwest LRT alignment.

The route between Cedar Lake and Lake of the Isles isn't the problem. Rather, it's the means of crossing the popular channel. The plan approved by the Metropolitan Council, Hennepin County and the cities along the 16 mile Green Line extension envisions a new bridge over the channel. The Park Board majority prefers a tunnel, arguing that it would be less disruptive to the pastoral setting.

The engineers have reported that a tunnel is feasible and is now studying costs. That’s because only if an alignment is the only "feasible and prudent route" can it infringe on parkland. A tunnel that is too expensive might not be considered prudent even if it is feasible to build.

“The MPRB has a fundamental responsibility to protect parkland,” Wielinski said. 

Dayton has been publicly signaling his frustration with the board for weeks, even if he hadn't named the agency specifically. In December, he told MPR News that “people who want to clog up the process” will get the blame if expanded transit for the region isn’t built. But in a letter to the board, former Met Council Chair Susan Haigh said neither the council nor Dayton would agree to any additional spending for a tunnel beneath the channel.

Haigh’s successor, Adam Duininick, said that remains the policy of the council. Just one week into his new job, Duininck said he hopes to continue talking to Park Board leaders and that a meeting with Board President Liz Wielinski will be held next week. But, he said, “We’re both really stuck in our positions. The Park Board believes we haven’t looked at all the options and we believe that we have.”

Duininck said Dayton’s budget move is illustrative of the governor’s frustration with the delays. “I was surprised at the level of his frustration ...,” Duininck said.

Mary Pattock, a spokesperson for opponents of the Kenilworth Corridor alignment who have filed their own legal challenge to the process, called the Dayton move “absolutely the worst instance of bare-knuckle politics I've ever seen in Minnesota, and the governor is so bold as to engage in it publicly.

“It is political terrorism, in which the hostage is the Minneapolis parks,” Pattock said. “Feels like Mayor Daley's Chicago in the 1970s.”

Get MinnPost's top stories in your inbox

Related Tags:

About the Author:

Comments (29)

Fortunately

The Governor cannot invoke executive action and take away funds. Any budget proposal he makes goes directly into the legislative shredder as are all Governor proposed budgets.

Except...

MN Governors have line item veto powers. They can put it in the budget, he can take it out. You think legislators have the votes to override a veto on behalf of the MPLS Park Board? You think these guys who took the house on behalf of rural areas are going to do that?

I neglected the line item veto

Mpls. and St. Paul schools get more money for their schools than everywhere else (it helps to have more legislators than everywhere else), why wouldn't the parks?

Perhaps the bigger question is "Why on earth is the State of Minnesota paying for Minneapolis parks?"

Huh?

The Cities get more money because they have the largest number of students, and those students are far more diverse and troubled in a lot of ways. But the fact is that the metro area sends far more money out-state than rural areas send into the metro area. They just did a big story about this at the Strib:

http://www.startribune.com/politics/statelocal/289688071.html

The vast majority of legislators don't live in or represent either MPLS or St. Paul. Our senator Ron Latz actually fired a shot across MPLS bow last year when he voted AGAINST the budget because it contained so many goodies for MPLS. If the Park Board thinks the legislators are going to come to their rescue they're simply delusional.

I don't actually mind contributing to MPLS parks. We know that the cities are our states primary economic and cultural engine. I want the cities to have the amenities they should have to attract business, tourism, and population, and frankly I use those amenities myself. We don't have a beautiful chain of lakes in St. Louis Park, and our bike trails are functional transit lines, not beautiful tours. I ride my bike and walk my dogs in the city almost on a daily basis.

What's frustrating is this rank anti-suburban/anti-rural attitude that's driving these complaints by MPLS residents. The fact is the cities themselves don't have the population or tax base to pay for their own services or amenities. Even their inner city bus service is subsidized to the tune of something like 70%. As long as we were building LR within their city it was the greatest thing since ice cream but the minute we try to connect to the suburbs it's like: "What do we get out of this?"

I want our MN cities to be vibrant exciting successes, and I don't mind paying for some stuff to make that happen. (personally the stadiums are my problem) But this transparent urban centric elitists anti-suburb crap that's been flowing out of the city over the last two years is hard to put up with. And your right, in the face that prejudice and centrism it is tempting to say: "screw it. We could use some bike paths and sidewalks, and commuter rail, and better roads here in SLP."

Someone needs to tell some of these folks that they live in a glass house and a rock fight is a really really really bad idea.

Try per pupil spending

You'll see what I'm talking about.

Please name some other cities that have more legislators than Mpls. or St. Paul. Since representation is based on population, both cities have more representation (legislators) than anywhere else. And they use this fact well to bring home the bacon.

Just sad!

I lived by and walked my dogs down the trail for years and it is a treasure. I support light rail but why is it always a choice to destroy something beautiful to get something like LRT? Why didn't the LRT run along 394 like it was suppose to in the beginning? If money was the excuse that is just criminal since it was still a hell of a lot less than a new stadium. I don't know where Dayton is coming from lately.

This is what happens ....

when al sides of the table truely do not have input regarding the route. There are more villinas then Dayton. He is just the latest. There is enough ham handedness for everyone tho. Start over.

Politics as usual?

If Dayton is playing "hardball" with those who question is policies, is he also rewarding (paying back) his most loyal political advocates and donors - big trickle down, union education?

Gov Dayton continues to impress

As a Minneapolis resident, taxpayer & park user, I wish the board would focus their efforts better. What a colossal waste & now additional lost funds.the next election can't come fast enough.

Really

Did he cut funding to the U of Mn and MPR when they battles about light rail routes? Nope.

That was during Tim

That was during Tim Pawlenty's term.

It's about time

This is nothing but NIMBY obstructionism on behalf of a few dozen wealthy homeowners. All along MPLS has been trying one or another, with considerable disingenuity, to modify the plan on behalf of a small number of influential home owners. For the Park Board, which is always complaining about cash shortages, to be budgeting nearly a million dollars for nuisance legal actions, this is transparent patronage.

Go Dayton!

It's not a few rich people pulling strings

No, it's not. There are plenty of us who live nowhere near there who think it's a bad idea to spend hundreds of millions of dollars tunneling through a park where almost no one lives rather than under streets where tens of thousands of people live, many of whom already take overcrowded buses on a regular basis that are often late because of being stuck in traffic. The current route was sold on half-truths and wishful thinking and no one ever thought to put the brakes on and reconsider things as the situation changed.

1) The feasibility of moving freight rail to SLP was never given any proper due diligence when selecting the route, it was just assumed it could happen without consulting any experts who might've been able to say "hey, wait a minute ..."

2) The cost effectiveness calculations used were changed shortly after the route was chosen to ones that more heavily favor existing commuters and urban routes over suburban commuter routes. We were told it was 'too late' to go back and redo things (yet how many years later are were still sitting here without a single shovel of dirt moved?).

3) There was some serious shenanigans going on in the studies used to select the current routing because it suggested there would be almost the same amount of riders at a station in the woods as there would be at a station in uptown. That doesn't even come close to passing a common sense test and should probably be a sign their methodologies are deeply flawed.

That's just a small subset of the issues people like me have with this route. It's a bad way to spend so much money because of the opportunity cost of spending that transit money on better projects (or routings) that will server more people more cost-effectively. The costs of this bad choice are ballooning as the wrong assumptions and calculations are coming to light, yet we're told that we have to continue forging ahead with a bad decision in order to save a spot in line for federal money? That's absurd. But we're continually told that the only people who oppose it are a handful of wealthy people pulling strings with elected officials, which is a blatant attempt to stir up some class warfare to defend a deeply flawed transit routing.

Dayton and Park Board

Governor Dayton should let the situation work itself out without resorting to school yard bullying. It is beneath him. I also love the NIMBY comment from someone sitting comfortably in Saint Louis Park. It is because of your cities actions along with the inaction of Hennepin County and Met Council that the Co-Location Problem exists. NIMBYism certainly is alive and well in Saint Louis Park.

Comfortable in St. Louis Park

Yes, I'm soooooo much more comfortable in my post war $180K home than any of those of poor poor poor people in multi million dollar homes in the Kenwood area... AND I INTEND TO KEEP IT THAT WAY!!!

This has NOTHING to do co-location. These Kennilworth residents NEVER intended to trade two freight trains a day for 224 Light Rail trains a day. They're not demanding deep tunnels because the freight rail that's been there for 100 years is staying there. Nor do they believe that new deep tunnels in sandy geology are "safer" for the lakes than bridges that have proven to be perfectly safe for 100 years. The agenda is and has always been to parkify a transportation corridor regardless of the effect on anyone else.

It seems pretty unfair and a

It seems pretty unfair and a bit disingenuous to make claims about what other people do or don't want in their back yard when you're so committed to keeping something out of your own. You're turning "Kenilworth Residents" into some kind of boogey man to blame everything on. They're not even people to you, they're just representative of some 'other' that has more money and power than you and wants something you don't. Never mind the fact that they are not alone in opposition to this line.

Not even worth it

And it's all over an utterly pointless light rail line that will have dismal ridership. Go team.

Dayton

My preference would be to re-route the train through the front yards of the wealthy NIMBY homeowners. The idea that the park board is spending that kind of money on this frivolous is offensive, especially when parks in less affluent neighborhoods are having their funding cut.

Thank you Governor Dayton for standing up to these awful people.

IMBYism

It's not just a "NIMBY obstructionism on behalf of a few dozen wealthy homeowners". I live in Uptown away from the current 3A alignment. I think it's the wrong alignment picked for the wrong reasons. It's routed through one of the least populous areas of Minneapolis so it can shave a few minutes off the commute time from the distant suburbs thereby improving the federal funding formula that places more value on those distant users than closer users.

I would rather the routing went through my neighborhood because the density supports it (the original 3C alignment). Though the line would cost more and increase commute times for distant users, it just makes more sense. I know many others outside of Kenwood and East Isles that make sense. We couldn't care less about the residents of those neighborhoods. We just think the 3A alignment is wrong and bad investment.

A good article about the differences between 3A and 3C alignments with density, poverty, and mode share in the areas surrounding those alignments.

Nimby shmimby

Mr. Cameron claims:

"I think it's the wrong alignment picked for the wrong reasons. It's routed through one of the least populous areas of Minneapolis so it can shave a few minutes off the commute time from the distant suburbs thereby improving the federal funding formula that places more value on those distant users than closer users."

I know this is Martin Sabo's argument, but guess where Sabo lives? At any rate it's simply wrong.

There are three million people living in the metro area and only 400,000 or so of them live in MPLS, less than one third he metro population. The population of downtown MPLS doubles every week day because of suburban commuters . The SWLR isn't "bypassing" MPLS populations, it's CONNECTING MPLS with it's population core.

Is the Blue Line, that Sabo fought for, a bad alignment because it runs under the airport where no one lives? What about those sections of the Green Line that run next to the grain elevators and parking lots, and that section that runs across 280?

The fact is that this the route through Kenilworth actually makes a lot of sense.

a) Uptown doesn't need a LR connection with Downtown. It's already well connected and well served and that service will be improved with street car lines in the future.

b) The primary destination for all LR systems is downtown, not uptown. Downtown has the jobs, the population, the entertainment, and the retail. Uptown's population is NOT doubled every week day by suburban commuters, theater goers, or stadium goers.

c) For obvious reasons it's a lot easier and less expensive to run the line through an existing rail corridor that's already publicly owned, than run it down, or under densely built and populated city streets. Any route through or under the city and uptown would require far more tunneling, disruption, and demolition than the existing kenilworth route. All that additional expense, disruption, and demolition, would only serve to make an unnecessary connection with uptown since uptown is NOT the primary destination.

Yeah, routes that are cost effective, less complicated, and easier to build have a better chance of winning federal dollars... you're point?

d) The Park Board actions have NOTHING to do with changing the route. The route is actually a settled issue, MPLS signed off on this route over a decade ago. This is about driving the LR under ground, and the only reason Kenilworth residents want it underground is because they don't want to see or or hear it. No matter how much it costs (someone else) or how much more dangerous tunnels would be for the adjacent lakes, they want LR in tunnels and out of sight.

This demand has NOTHING to with the freight rail. Kenilworth would be fighting to tunnel this line with or without the freight rail. MPLS agreed to the route but these residents never really intended to trade two freight trains a day or 224 LR trains, that's clear at this point.

As for competing NIMBIism's between St. Louis Park and MPLS... consider the "inconvenience" of having trains continue run where they've always run in Kenilworth, compared with the inconvenience of having your home or business (more than 50 of them) torn down in order make room for new trains. St. Louis Park residents were fighting to save their homes from demolition. The deep tunnels the Park Board is demanding on behalf of Kenilworth residents aren't saving any homes or businesses from demolition.

The fact that Kenilworth residents would even try to demolish other people's homes in order to rid themselves of the minor impact of two freight trains a day, speaks volumes regarding their sense of entitlement.

And remember, the project already has $50 million dollars budgeted for amelioration, and there are very few properties actually adjacent to the corridor North of Cedar Parkway in the first place, maybe 16 or 17.

A real transit system has more than commuter rail

You seem to be far too focused on moving commuters from distant suburbs into downtown and have forgotten that a good transit system should serve people with other destinations. There are jobs places other than downtown. People shop places other than downtown (in fact, there's fewer and fewer places to shop downtown anyway). More importantly, people LIVE places other than downtown. If you build your entire system to serve one purpose--suburban to downtown commutes--it will be cost ineffective and empty most of the day outside of rush hour. If you look at other successful transit systems they connect a multitude of activity centers, not just downtown to park and rides.

Also, you examples are really apples to oranges. Airports are a *huge* source/destination for transit ridership and those empty lots in St Paul are quickly filling in. The difference is you can't fill in the parkland with development. With SWLRT you're running a train through a low-density sparsely-populated area that has very little chance of ever changing or developing much more. If you put it through uptown instead there's hundreds of opportunities to redevelop and raise density.

Your assertion that uptown/lynlake/nicollet has acceptable transit is also completely wrong and I invite you try to take these buses sometime. They're very often overcrowded and way off schedule. They get stuck in traffic. They aren't very frequent. They might be (sadly) some of the best routes in town, but they are *not* shining examples of what transit should be.

Just throwing a train in a corridor that the gov't already bought is not good transit planning. The easiest and cheapest option is rarely the best one, and in this case it's extra true. Just because someone already paid for the corridor doesn't make it a good route. This is throwing good money after bad because everyone is so committed to a series of bad decisions and can't admit how wrong they were.

From the level of fervor you defend this route with and attack anyone who opposes with, I'd say you probably live somewhere close enough to a stop that you'll see benefits in terms of either riding it or your property value going up, but rerouting the freight line would have taken your house or put a freight line next to it. So now that you've staved off the danger to your property, you want the benefits NOW no matter what anyone else wants.

Also, I'm pretty sure it wasn't the big bad "Kenilworth residents" out to demolish homes with gold-plated and diamond-encrusted bulldozers, it was the met council. They're the ones who made a bad call and trying to blame everything on some rich people is doing your cause no favors with anyone who thinks critically.

You also seem to be conflating anyone who thinks the routing should be more urban with wanting to reroute freight, which wouldn't even be necessary if the line ran through uptown.

Regarding the park board, actually they're just doing their job with stewardship of parkland. If anyone actually paid attention to the law besides them, it would be obvious they're kind of required to do this and could probably get sued down the line for not doing it by people who will inevitably sue over the line. Not to mention that the way the law they're citing is worded, the best option complying with that law is to move the routing of the SWLRT or it shouldn't (at least by the wording of the law) get federal money as a transportation project.

But you're right, it's just some snotty rich people throwing a tantrum and not a really complex issue with a lot of poor decision-making.

What?

"You seem to be far too focused on moving commuters from distant suburbs into downtown and have forgotten that a good transit system should serve people with other destinations"

We're too focused on suburbs? Do I really have to tell you where we have already built nearly $4 billion dollars worth of light rail? We're subsidizing up to 70% of your inner city bus service and we just dedicated upwards of $50 million for a Nicollet street car line and I'm not complaining about ANY of that.

Again, look at where the metro population is. If you don't think we should build any transit that does anything more than move 400,00 people around within the city of MPLS you don't understand our transit needs, and you're not going to have enough money to run your transit system. Building transit within the city is pointless if everyone trying to get in and out of the city is going to be stuck in traffic. The need to connect the city to the 2.5 million people living around it, is beyond obvious. And by the way, Eagan isn't THAT distant, this is a light rail, not a commuter rail.

"Also, I'm pretty sure it wasn't the big bad "Kenilworth residents" out to demolish homes with gold-plated and diamond-encrusted bulldozers, it was the met council."

You may be sure but you're wrong, and you can't have it both ways. You can't blame the Met Council for failing to enforce the agreement to move the freight rail AND blame them for trying to demolish homes in order to move the freight rail at the same time. The Met Council dropped the relocation plan. It was MPLS that kept pushing to tear down homes in SLP so that a few Kenilworth residents could be free of freight rail.

The co-location thing had nothing to with bad planning, circumstances changed over time, so the plan had to change with them. In the ten years between the first talks, and the plan to move existing freight traffic onto EXISTING tracks in SLP, and now, the freight company moving trains through Kenilworth started running longer trains than it had been ten years ago. Those trains cannot safely negotiate the EXISTING tracks in St. Louis Park. This is why moving the rain traffic now would involve demolition of homes and businesses. The government can't make the train company go back to shorter trains, and demolishing homes and businesses was NEVER part of the plan in SLP. So there you have it. None of the engineers or designers could foresee the longer trains, and they had nothing to do with the decision to run longer trains.

Meanwhile MPLS continued to push for the relocation despite the fact that it would now require the demolition of 50+ homes and businesses in SLP. And yes, they did that on behalf of a few wealthy residents in Kenilworth, no one else cares.

"We're subsidizing up to 70%

"We're subsidizing up to 70% of your inner city bus service "

Citation please. All bus routes are subsidized and the suburban routes are actually subsidized at far higher levels than inner-city buses. You already have a set of fancy buses with posh seating to whisk you from suburban park and rides (Cost: millions of dollars each) where you park your car for free and pay roughly the same fare to go 10-30 miles as people do to go 1-2 while standing in the aisle and getting pressed up against strangers who may or may not bathe regularly. I'm not even going to get into the whole 'highways in the city eating up land (no property tax on it) and money for mostly suburban benefit' thing because I don't have the time.

Your need to harp on the fact that Minneapolis "only" has 400,000/3,000,000 people ignores the critical distinction about POPULATION DENSITY. Those people are squeezed into a small piece of land that means more people live closer together--which is something that effective transit needs to work. Trying to equate thinly-spread suburban populations where there might be 1,000 people within a mile radius of a station to an inner-city area with tens of thousands is stupid.If you want to widen the catchment area of the suburban station you pretty much are required to spend millions more dollars on a park and ride, and then apparently it's not ok to even charge people to park in these to recover the maintenance costs, so you're creating another drag on budgets.

Honestly, I also think the freight rail thing was dumb. They never should have suggested it would have worked to move the freight rail in the first place, and the proposed solution was awful. I don't agree with those kind of takings any more than you do and it's good they killed that early. But that doesn't mean they can't also kill the LRT routing in the woods and move it somewhere sensible. Why they compromised on one but not the other is bewildering. But the freight reroute issue is dead and buried and no one is even remotely suggesting trying to make it work anymore, so it's really not a great talking point to continue harping on.

Your hatred of a routing that goes through the city is ridiculous in light of the arguments you're making. The line would *still* continue to SLP and out to the burbs if it went through uptown. Plenty of people from the SW part of the burbs go to uptown. Seriously, they do and then they complain about paying for parking. You just can't sacrifice an extra five minutes or sit with 'those people' on your way downtown? What's the deal? You can have your cake and so can Minneapolis, so why the hate? Pretty much everyone gets what they want in the 3C routing, with a only a little compromise. Southwest suburban residents get their commuter line to downtown, city residents could have an actual high-capacity, high-frequency link from uptowntown to lynlake, nicollet and downtown, and those oh-so-powerful Kenilworth aristocrats would get the status quo they apparently so deeply crave. It might be more expensive, but it serves far more people and with the expanding cost of tunneling in the park, it's not even that much more expensive than the current budget anymore.

Citations and what not

"Just throwing a train in a corridor that the gov't already bought is not good transit planning"

Yeah well, just because something makes a lot of sense doesn't mean it's a bad idea.

I don't know why you keep insisting that a route with higher construction costs, demolitions, and far more disruption, all to make an unnecessary connection to uptown, is so obviously a "better" route? Again, uptown doesn't need a light rail connection. If we want to improve inner city transit fine, but THAT'S not what the SWLR is. This route is just fine, just because 1.5 miles of a 12 mile line goes through Kenilworth doesn't make it a bad route.

Population density is a different issue all together. I think you're anti-suburban prejudice might be showing a little. Again, MPLS doesn't need light rail to get people from downtown to uptown no matter how many people per square mile they have, for crying out loud dude, it's almost walking distance depending what you define as "uptown".

Look, your acting like today is the first day that anyone is thinking about this, it's not. And just because you don't like the route doesn't mean that all the planning, designing, engineering, and public meetings of the last ten years are stupid. The route your're suggesting, and others (like running down 394) were explored and rejected for a lot of very good reasons. The ONLY advantage to your route is that it connects to uptown, and all the additional cost and disruption simply isn't worth it because uptown doesn't need that connection. You don't think anyone who lives and does business along 3C route would have any objections? You think it's easier to tear down homes and businesses than it is to build on an existing corridor? You think Kenilworth residents and the Park Board are the only ones with lawyers? It's not that I hate city routes, every LR we've built thus far has been a city route, and I supported them all. The 3C route just doesn't make sense.

You're going to get high capacity high frequency link when we build the street car line, and the street car line is way way way less disruptive than a LR line would be. We all get what we want with the Kenilworth route.

As for the 70% citation the last time I looked at the MTC budget only 30% of it was paid by riders, the rest is subsidized by the county and state. Since the majority of those buses run in the the cities and move city residents, and since less than a third Henn and Ramsey Co. residents live in MPLS... But your right, it probably doesn't work out 70% on the dot, it might be less, but your city ridership is still heavily subsidized by outside funding.

Yes, those privately owned suburban lines are even more heavily subsidized (that's the private sector for you.) But that's an argument to those private buses with MTC buses, AND that's one more reason we need LR out there.

By the way, I live in SLP but I'm over by 394 and Louisiana, I'm personally pretty much unaffected by either the LR route or the erstwhile freight reroute.

Uptown's connected

"Your assertion that uptown/lynlake/nicollet has acceptable transit is also completely wrong and I invite you try to take these buses sometime. They're very often overcrowded and way off schedule. They get stuck in traffic. They aren't very frequent. "

Well, Mr. Sturdevant here on Minnpost would disagree: "I go to Uptown all the time. For one, it’s about the easiest place in town to get to by bus or bicycle – a straight shot down the Midtown Greenway, the 21 or the 6. It’s one of just a few neighborhoods in the cities where it’s easy to hail a cab on the street." http://www.minnpost.com/stroll/2015/01/revisiting-uptown-noting-symbolic...

I myself used to work at Calhoun Square and had no trouble getting there on the bus. Yes transit can be crowded sometimes.

Look, you want better transit in the city.. go ahead build it. Oh, that's right, you need me to build it for you so your property taxes down't sky-rocket. Hmmmm, let me think about that. I'm already building you street car lines, billions of dollars worth of Light Rail, and paying for 70% of your bus service (as crappy as that might be). I'm also paying for your mall upgrade, your stadiums and arena's, and your parks. Well, I'll think about it nevertheless. I would like, if it's not toooooo much to ask, to have some transit in my city so I can get into your city and maybe once and while use all this stuff I'm helping you pay for?

Due diligence not so much

The idea that Park Board is just being diligent is a more than a little dubious. For one thing, the tunnel idea has already been studied, for millions of dollars, at least three times, by different consultants and engineers. They've all reported that while a deep tunnel isn't impossible, it's inadvisable. It would far more expensive, and more dangerous for the lakes. In essence the Park Board isn't protecting their resource if they demand a deep tunnel, they'd actually be threatening it.

You have to remember, it's not the additional cost of the deep tunnel that's problematic. If something goes wrong, during or after construction, as happened in the Big Dig in Boston, you not only have a threatened natural resource, but you have ongoing repair and maintenance costs associated with the failure. Nobody thought anything could go wrong the Sabo Bridge, but it did. And a deep tunnel in this location is even more problematic.

It's actually irresponsible for the Park Board to push for tunnels that have already been rejected. It's also fiscally irresponsible to dump half a million dollars into new studies when we already know the answer.

Bridges have been there for 100 years and worked just fine, we KNOW they work, and are compatible with lakes and channel. And remember, we've set aside $50 million for mitigation just in that area.

Park Board and SWLRT

Discussion about whether or not the Minneapolis Park Board has legitimate grievances regarding the SWLRT may miss the key question: What does the Park Board hope to achieve by spending a half million dollars? So far, the answer seems to be “information.” But information is not a tangible result. Money and information are both currencies, a means to achieve some result. What likely result did the Park Board envision when it launched its expensive investigation? A tunnel that could be built as cheaply and quickly as a bridge? Additional money for a project already under political fire for its cost? Park Board dollars to pay for the extra construction cost? Additional time in the competition for shrinking federal dollars? A realistic evaluation of the prospects would have suggested only two possible outcomes: A bridge over the Kenilworth lagoon built more or less as originally planned. Or the collapse of the SWLRT project. GIven the foreseeable outcome the Park Board’s quixotic quest, Gov. Dayton is correct is seeing it as a destructive diversion of public money.

Alternating trains - Kenilworth & 29th Street

Imho, running the light rail straight east along the bike trail
from Cedar Lake to Nicollet or Chicago Avenue, and then north to
downtown would serve a lot more people.

Another option would be to build one line there and another
at grade level down the Kenilworth corridor and alternate the
trains so each route gets half the load.

The folks that want a quicker trip between downtown and
Chaska can choose their option.

Greenway Transit

There is already a plan for rail transit it the Midtown Greenway from West Calhoun to Hiawatha: the Midtown Corridor.

http://www.metrotransit.org/midtown-corridor

That project plus the Nicollet streetcar will give us exactly the rail option you desire. Furthermore, rail transit will extend further east to the more-in-need South Minneapolis neighborhoods. Plus the bus on Lake St. will get a big enhancement all the way through Marshall Ave. and up Snelling to University.

With this arrangement we serve two important areas of Minneapolis with rail transit to the SW suurbs (North and South) and we give much better bus service on one of the most heavily used lines in the metro.

That seems a much better plan to me than routing SWLRT through Uptown which would kill both the Nicollet streetcar and a rail extension east along the Greenway.