Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Twin Cities suburb OKs LRT route option

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Golden Valley, Minn.'s City Council, reversing an earlier stance, has narrowly given approval for a proposed light rail transit route linking Brooklyn Park, Minn., and Minneapolis. The vote was 3-to-2.

Golden Valley had protested the so-called "Bottineau route," citing concerns that LRT would adversely impact the municipality's bucolic nature, including disrupting wildlife, by routing it through or adjacent to existing parkland. But proponents, including the mayor, voted in favor of the proposal on Tuesday.

Opponents had advocated an alternate route. But Henneipon County officials and the Metropolitan Council, which oversees LRT development in the Twin Cities, have said other options would require the purchase and removal of as many as 100 homes. The current preferred route is also projected to offer quicker trip times.

Planners hope to submit an application for a preferred alignment for the route to federal officials by next summer, which would advance a fourth LRT route serving the metropolitan Twin Cities area. The Hiawatha Line made its debut in June 2004, and with subsequent expansion now links the Mall of America with Target Field and intermediate points. The Central Corridor, linking Target Field with downtown St. Paul, the state capital, is set to open in 2014.

A third LRT route, the Southwest Line, would link Minneapolis with Eden Prairie, Minn.