Minneapolis grudgingly OKs Southwest LRT

Written by Douglas John Bowen
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Despite publicly stated misgivings, the Minneapolis City Council has voted to approve a compromise package advancing the Twin Cities Southwest Light Rail Transit line, linking Minneapolis with Eden Prairie, Minn.

The controversial line, essentially the fourth LRT route for the Twin Cities, has generated the most controversy within the region, as numerous parties sparred over a choice of routes, choice of infrastructure (tunneling vs. at grade), and other variables, including conflicts over light rail and freight rail priorities.

But a compromise package was hammered out last July, with the Minneapolis City Council being in essence placing the final puzzle piece of approval into place late Friday, Aug. 29, 2014.

“The Southwest light rail line, which will serve one of the most jobs-rich corridors in the state, will be a key addition to our regional economy when it opens,” said Metropolitan Council Chair Susan Haigh. “The corridor is currently home to more than 210,000 jobs, and projected to grow by another 60,000 jobs by 2030. This line will be a smart, cost-effective addition to our 21st century transit system. It will efficiently and quickly move people to and from work, home and school along what is today a very congested corridor, in addition to connecting people to St. Paul and Bloomington via our existing light rail lines.”

Met Council is the metropolitan planning organization (MPO) for the Twin Cities.

The 15.8-mile Southwest LRT Project, also called the Green Line extension, will extend the Green Line (Central Corridor LRT which opened June 14, linking St. Paul, the state capital, with downtown Minneapolis) from downtown through growing southwestern suburban municipalities.

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