Planners for Southwest Light Rail Line Propose New Tunnel Idea

Updated: 03/12/2014 10:35 PM By: Cassie Hart

With route choices limited for the Southwest Light Rail Line and a funding deadline looming, a new option may have emerged.

Metropolitan Council project planners presented a shallow tunnel option Wednesday, where the line would remain under the water channel in the Kenilworth Corridor. It’s similar to an option that lost steam months ago.

The Minneapolis Park and Rec Board had recently asked the Met Council to examine such a proposal. It would cost up to $85 million more than another shallow tunnel plan and could take a year longer to build.

The Met Council Chair, Sue Haigh, said those reasons are exactly why that option had been passed over previously.

“It has always been technically possible, but a less desirable alternative. This option was presented today to be responsive to the Minneapolis Park Board resolution. The council is eager to find a solution and will continue conversations with Minneapolis to advance this important regional project,” Haigh wrote in a statement.

Mayor Hodges released a statement saying she was surprised because the Met Council originally said this was impossible. “This is a brand new, and therefore, unstudied idea that is being put on the table three weeks before I’m supposed to vote. We appreciate the Met Council’s responsiveness to the request from the Park Board. However, anything that may harm our lakes needs thorough analysis, which, according to the law, the Met Council must provide. We expect the community to have the opportunity to review the analysis thoroughly before any votes are taken,” Hodges wrote.

The Met Council is expected to make a final decision on the project on April 9.