North Minneapolis Residents Push for Southwest Light Rail Line

Updated: 04/08/2014 7:11 PM By: Katherine Johnson

People living in North Minneapolis are putting pressure on Mayor Betsy Hodges, the Metropolitan Council and Hennepin County to change their minds and support the current Southwest Light Rail plan.

This final push comes one day before the Metropolitan Council's official vote on the current proposed plan. The 15.8-mile line would cost about $1.6 billion to build and would connect Minneapolis and Eden Prairie.

Those who live on the north side of the city say it would give them opportunities to search for jobs outside of the city as well as bring more jobs and opportunities for development to their neighborhoods.

"The Harrison community cannot wait for increased access to economic opportunity," said one North Minneapolis resident at a morning news conference to push their support of the plan. "It cannot wait for better transportation options and it cannot wait for the Southwest Light Rail project to be delayed any longer."

Harrison plans around the Van White station have been in development by the community for over a decade, according to the resident. The neighborhood hoping to take advantage of the economic development possibilities around the proposed Van White station to reduce the current 20% unemployment rate.

In order for the current project proposal to stay on track, all cities involved must agree on the plan by June.

The residents, along with the group Take Action Minnesota, called for Hodges, the Met Council and Hennepin County to come to the table on the issue.

The Metropolitan Council will meet at 3 p.m. on Wednesday, April 9, in the Council Chambers in St. Paul to hear a brief presentation from Southwest LRT Project staff and take public testimony before voting on the project’s scope and budget.