Messages from the Council Chair

Studies to address community concerns about Southwest LRT

January 2014

After considerable debate and discussion this fall about the Green Line extension (Southwest light rail) project, the Council commissioned additional independent reviews in order to help resolve concerns about both freight location and water quality and level.

Council Chair Susan Haigh

In December, we tapped national engineering firm TranSystems to independently analyze freight rail relocation options and another national engineering firm, Burns & McDonnell, to independently evaluate potential impacts to the bodies of water around the Kenilworth Corridor. Additionally, expert staff in the Southwest Proj­ect Office will conduct a landscape inventory of the Kenilworth Corridor in Minneapolis.

The freight rail relocation alternatives analysis conducted by TranSystems will review existing studies and designs, assess viability of options con­sidered and identify any new possibilities for rerouting freight traffic out of the Kenilworth Corridor.

The purpose of the water resources evaluation is to independently assess potential impacts on water quality and levels of lakes within the Kenilworth Corridor that could be caused by construction or operation of shallow light rail tunnels.

The Metropolitan Council will host public community meetings on January 7 and 9 focused on the studies now underway of freight rail, water resources, and landscaping/greenscaping of the Kenilworth Corridor .

These meetings will provide opportuni­ties to learn about the scopes of these studies, talk to project staff and discuss the project with invited elected officials. These meetings will also be an opportunity for residents to help officials prioritize criteria for ultimately determining the best scope and budget for the project.

Draft results of these three efforts are expected to be released in late January 2014 for public feedback. Additional community meetings to discuss all three draft reports will be announced in a few weeks.

Final results of all three studies will be presented to the public and to the project’s advisory committees, and will be reviewed by the Metropolitan Council before it votes on the project scope and budget.

We hope the additional time and independent expert review of these three areas of concern will provide supplementary information requested by the public and decisionmakers to allow the project to move forward.

Details of upcoming meetings and study scopes can be found at Drafts of all three studies will be posted when they become available