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4/1/2014



Rail News: Passenger Rail

Southwest light-rail planners recommend tunnels, bridge for Minneapolis-area project


Building shallow tunnels for light-rail tracks and a light-rail transit (LRT) bridge over a channel between two lakes is the best option for the Southwest Green Line light-rail extension, Minneapolis-area planners reaffirmed yesterday.

Planners also recommended keeping Mitchell Station as the westernmost station in Eden Prairie. The recommendation preserves homes, businesses, a pedestrian and bicycle trail through the Kenilworth neighborhood, as well as freight-rail track, Metro Transit and Metropolitan Council officials said in a press release.

"We have a wealth of information about this project and now is the time to use that information to make a decision that moves this project forward," said Metropolitan Council Chair Susan Haigh.

Mark Fuhrmann, Metro Transit’s program director for New Starts rail projects, said that following six months of additional study "all the information we’ve learned from the independent reports and additional discussions about safety, engineering, water resources, cost factors and freight rail operations and regulations points us toward the shallow LRT tunnel option through the Kenilworth Corridor."

Tomorrow, planners are expected to present their recommendation to the Southwest Corridor Management Committee, which is scheduled to discuss and vote on a recommendation to the Metropolitan Council.

The project's cost now ranges from $1.67 billion to $1.68 billion as adjusted for inflation, up from $1.55 billion due to Mitchell Road Station being retained as the westernmost station and the additional time needed to inform project sponsors and the public about critical issues around water, freight and vegetation, council officials said.

The 15.8-mile line with 16 stations would now open in 2019 instead of late 2018, they said.

The proposed Southwest LRT project would operate from downtown Minneapolis through St. Louis Park, Hopkins, Minnetonka, and Eden Prairie, passing in close proximity to the City of Edina. The proposed alignment is primarily at-grade and includes 17 new stations and approximately 15.8-miles of double track.



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