Met Council, Park Board Reach Agreement Over Light Rail
The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board is dropping its opposition to a bridge carrying light rail across the Kenilworth Channel after reaching an agreement with the Metropolitan Council.
Park Board members had pushed against—and paid for a new study to examine—the Met Council’s plan to route the Southwest LRT over the channel rather than under it in a tunnel, fearing it would harm the atmosphere around the lakes.
Now, with the study finished and a memorandum of understanding promising the Park Board influence over bridge design, staff and legal counsel have thrown their support behind it.
“We have received a lot of new information this month from our consultants and the Metropolitan Council,” Park Board president Liz Wielinski said in a joint statement. “The Park Board is very optimistic about the new, more collaborative efforts for the ongoing work on the Southwest light rail.”
The agreement between the two parties also promises to provide “earlier involvement in any light rail transit project to address impacts to park land and park resources owned by the Park Board.” That should smooth out future negotiations, such as the Bottineau light rail line to Brooklyn Park, which is expected to run on and near Theo Wirth Park.
The Met Council has agreed to pay the Park Board 50 percent of the engineering costs incurred from the study they conducted, saying that it would be incorporated into the council’s environmental documentation and analysis.
The memorandum of understanding comes shortly after Gov. Mark Dayton named Adam Duininck, a light rail support, as chair of the council and slashed Park Board funding by over $3 million for causing “mayhem” and pushing back construction of the line. That money is expected to be restored.
Though one obstacle has been solved, the project still faces a lawsuit from local residents and the GOP-controlled state House, which opposes rail transit.