Planners at the Metropolitan Council say they have solved the latest, and hopefully final, lawsuit over the planned Southwest LRT transit line by eliminating all but the first three stations of the line. The line will now begin at Mitchell Station and end at Eden Prairie Town Center Station. “We’ve talked with all the stakeholders and local governments along the line,” said Chuck Rootbender, lead planner with the Metropolitan Council. “This is a solution that everyone can get behind and support and finally move this project forward.”
The line has been plagued by debate and lawsuits, including the latest by a group of Minnetonka residents claiming that the route would harm a local natural area. The Metropolitan Council also sparred with the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board over the design of a channel crossing in Minneapolis. The new route plans would solve those disputes by ending the line before it left Eden Prairie city boundaries.
The new line would now serve primarily suburban residents, moving shoppers quickly to Eden Prairie Center Mall from further flung destinations. “Everyone agrees that parking at Eden Prairie Center gets nearly three-quarters full around the holidays, and a nice warm LRT ride from the park and ride at Mitchell would really help out,” said Eden Prairie mayor Archibald Freelane.
The new routing plan would also shave over $1 billion of the cost of project, bringing the cost to $300 million, versus the previous estimates of $1.65 billion. “This is a heck of a deal,” said Rootbender. “We’re getting a significant savings here. $300 million is only a little more than it would cost to put bus shelters at every stop in the metro that needs one. That is value.” A funding package for the new line still needs to be finalized, according to Rootbender, but sources will include a bread tax, local, county, state, and federal sources, a donation from George Soros, and aluminum cans collected at Metro Transit waste baskets that will be driven to Michigan on an old Route 16 bus.
Streets.mn is a non-profit and is volunteer run. We rely on your support to keep the servers running. If you value what you read, please consider becoming a member.