DFL48 | Restoring Common Sense Minnesota Values

TAG | SWLRT

Jul/16

25

What happens to suburbs if Southwest light rail isn’t built?

itempropFrom this article in the Star Tribune:

It’s been said that if you build it, they will come.

But what if they’ve already arrived — and then you don’t build it after all?

That’s the situation facing suburbs along the proposed Southwest Light Rail Transit line as legislators continue their long battle over the line’s state funding.

The line has been touted by its backers as a spur to future development in the west-metro suburbs. In reality, development has already occurred — quite a bit of it.

For at least a decade, and in some cases longer, city officials and planners have guided development with the Southwest line in mind.

Thousands of apartment units have been built or are underway along the line’s route, with more in planning. Hundreds of millions of dollars have been invested in commercial development, all with the expectation that the trains would be coming.

So what happens if they don’t?

“I think it will be a staggering setback for these communities,” said Peter McLaughlin, a Hennepin County commissioner and one of the Southwest line’s most vigorous supporters. “The essential element, their connectivity to the 21st-century economy, will be destroyed.”

Read more here.

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May/14

16

Local SWLRT hearing coming

On May 20, the city of Eden Prairie will hold an informational open house and a hearing to gather additional public opinion on preliminary plans for the Eden Prairie stretch of the Southwest Light Rail Project (SWLRT) before requesting further changes or issuing its consent for the project to move forward to more advanced stages of planning.

Our town is slated to having 5 of the 16 stations of the 16-mile long southwest extension of what is now branded “The Green Line.” When it begins passenger service in 2019, it will run from a station and parking ramp complex on Technology Drive about 350 yards west of Mitchell Road to Target Field in Minneapolis. The east half of the Green Line from Target Field to Union Depot in downtown St. Paul, begins service June 14.

I began attending SWLRT Project informational meetings in Minnetonka and Eden Prairie when Hennepin County began overseeing transit corridor studies in 2001. The project is now managed by the Net Council. Over the past year, I have monitored two of a number of ongoing, SWLRT panels — the citizens advisory and corridor management committees — as well as attended community oriented housing and planning initiatives and city of Eden Prairie workshops.

SWLRT design engineers and the public works, community development staffs and elected officials and non-government community and business leaders of Eden Prairie, Minnetonka, Hopkins, St. Louis Park and Minneapolis have been engaged in the protean process of planning what is now a $1.7 billion dollar project. The project has been a collaborative, if sometimes controversial, initiative with many opportunities for citizens to be heard.

Freight and light-rail alignment issues in Minneapolis and St. Louis Park and rising projected costs that were prompted by plans to run light-rail trains in two shallow tunnels through the Kenilworth Corridor in Minneapolis, have dominated media coverage and distorted public perception of the project; one that polls show has widespread support.

For example, the Eden Prairie, TwinWest and Minneapolis chambers of commerce support the preliminary plan now being considered for official consent by Hennepin County and the five cities. A North Minneapolis transit forum hosted by Congressman Keith Ellison in early April revealed strong support for the project from community, political and business leaders as well as public transit users. They see light rail as a necessary and urgent spark for investment, redevelopment, job creation and connectivity for those who prefer transit to cars or cannot drive — increasing numbers of Beatles-loving, Baby Boom elders and social media smart Gen Xers as well as employers, employees and college and tech school students.

And so, t00, in Eden Prairie. United Health Group chose Eden Prairie for a new campus largely because the site will be served by light rail. SouthWest Transit commuter bus service looks forward to reworking its SouthWest Station hub to accommodate light rail. Car commuters and transit-dependent Eden Prairians look forward to more effectively connecting to the region as a whole.

Jeff Strate
Eden Prairie
Eden Prairie News, May 15, 2014

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SWLRTOn April 2, 2014, the Community Advisory Committee (CAC) approved plans for the LRT/SWL with a vote of  11 in favor to 2 against. This action moves the project up to a Met Council meeting and vote on April 9. Voting against the project were Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges and Anoka County Commissioner Matt Look. The project’s recommended budget is $1.683 billion.

For those of you who haven’t been following this tale, there have been a lot of twists and turns, as would be expected with  project this large passing through so many municipalities.

Since a chronology of the more than two decades long process would take up pages, what’s most important to know for SD48 residents now is that the Eden Prairie route that got the go-ahead is the COMP plan. An article from Finance and Commerce gives you an idea of how business stake-holders took to the plan, which has yet to be clearly defined. Whether it’s the city or the Metropolitan Council that finally decides is anyone’s guess. Bachman’s, which has yet to weigh in on the route, said, “It’s in the city’s hands now.”

Particulars not spelled out include where the rail line will be laid on Prairie Center Drive (park side, middle or business side). The latest change is that the city will get Mitchell Station and 900 additional parking spaces at that station and 400 new ones at the South West Metro Bus Station. The target date for completion of the SWLRT is 2019.

Six months ago the Chanhassen Villager gave some insight into why the COMP plan is being embraced by the city. The Met Council proposed a LPA, a Locally Preferred Alternative plan which ran down Technology Drive east. The city opted for a plan further south so as to be closer to apartment complexes and the Eden Prairie Mall. The COMP plan also replaced another alternative plan that would have laid the rail line on Singletree Lane.

Where is the money to fund the LRT/SWLRTprojects coming from?

Here are some links to explain:

http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=/program_offices/sustainable_housing_communities/sustainable_communities_regional_planning_grants

http://www.livingcities.org/integration/

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©2014 DFL SD 48. Prepared and paid for by Senate District 48 DFL, Sharon Borine, Chair, 18285 Croixwood Ln, Eden Prairie, MN 55347