LRT

SWLRT Community Advisory Committee

The Southwest  Light Rail (SWLRT) Community Advisory Committee, with new members, has begun meetings again. The Met Council describes its role as follows:  “The Community Advisory Committee (CAC) serves as a voice for the community and advises the Corridor Management Committee during the planning and implementation phases of the light rail line.” Jody Strakosch from Kenwood is on the CAC.

CAC meeting schedules and minutes can be viewed on the Met Council website:

http://www.metrocouncil.org/Transportation/Projects/Current-Projects/Southwest-LRT/SWLRT-Committees/Community-Advisory-Committee.aspx

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Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement

A Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement (SDEIS) regarding the  Southwest Light Rail Transit project is required because of changes to the project since the preparation of the DEIS. Changes include the decision to co-locate both freight rail and light rail in the Kenilworth Corridor and the addition of a  tunnel under Cedar Lake Parkway for light rail. The Southwest Project Office has thus far released just one section of the DEIS, concerning noise and vibrations impacts (before any mitigation). It can be viewed here.

DraftSDEISSections (2)

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Southwest Light Rail update and Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act

After the Minneapolis City Council granted Municipal Consent for the $1.65 billion SWLRT project, the Met Council proceeded to the “30% engineering” stage. The current illustration of the 21st St. Station can be viewed here:

http://metrocouncil.org/Transportation/Projects/Current-Projects/Southwest-LRT/Publications-And-Resources/Engineering/PE_RollPlots/SWLRT_PE_22_21stStreetStation.aspx

The 2012 SWLRT Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) recommended against the current plan to locate both freight and light rail in the Kenilworth corridor, and did not cover the impact of the currently proposed shallow tunnel. The Supplemental Draft EIS addressing these and other issues is expected in 2015.

Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act provides for a review process to encourage (but does not mandate) preservation when a federally-funded project like SWLRT affects historic properties such as Kenwood Parkway and the Kenilworth channel between Lake of the Isles and Cedar Lake, which is part of the Chain of Lakes.  KIAA approved an expenditure of up to $5,000 for a contract with Preservation Design Works to assist KIAA with its role as a Consulting Party in the section 106 review process. KIAA will use Neighborhood Priority Plan (NPP) funds from the City under the Community Participation Program to pay for this cost. Based on the neighborhood survey in 2013, one of KIAA’s NPP priorities is “hiring a professional to identify ideas for mitigation near the proposed 21st Street Station, including visual, noise, and safety issues related to the proposed Southwest Light Rail Transit, or otherwise addressing issues related to the impact of the SWLRT on the neighborhood.”

The four comment letters submitted by KIAA to date under the section 106 review process can be found here:

KIAA SWLRT 106 Letter on 04_22_2015 Materials_THL

KIAA SWLRT 106 Letter on 02_24_2015 Materials FINAL

SWLRT 106 Letter 2 16 15 FINAL 3.2.20 15

KIAA Response to 11_12_2014 106 Materials Final (2)

KIAA 106 Response to 10_17_2014

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Hill & Lake Press article re: SWLRT

Viability of Southwest LRT, current Kenilworth alignment questioned as challenges accumulate By Michael Wilson

The above article can be found on the bottom part of page one of this link:

http://hillandlakepress.com/PDF/15Jan.pdf

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Southwest LRT Update re Park Board:

The Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board Commissioners will be asked to support a light rail transit bridge over the Kenilworth channel, (i.e., discontinuing their research efforts into tunnel alternatives), and to facilitate future LRT projects.

The Commissioners voted on the following resolution:

Resolution 2015-139
Resolution Determining that the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB) Will Not Pursue Tunnel Crossing Options for the Southwest Light Rail Transit (SWLRT) Project; Approving a Memorandum of Understanding with the Metropolitan Council that 1) Establishes a Process that Recognizes Parks and Park Resources in the Transit Project Development Process, 2) Outlines a Process for Collaboration Between the Southwest Project Office and MPRB on Design of Bridge Crossings at the Kenilworth Channel, and 3) Results in an Agreement Between the Metropolitan Council and the MPRB to Facilitate Approval and Construction of the SWLRT Project; and Authorizing the Superintendent to Initiate Agreements with Metropolitan Council to Reimburse the MPRB for Costs Related to Its Work on the SWLRT Project and the Blue Line Light Rail Transit Extension (Bottineau) Project.

Residents are encouraged to attend the meeting to share your opinion during 
Open Time* or by contacting the Commissioners** prior to the meeting.

Click here to read more about the agreement between MPRB and Metropolitan Council and the Memorandum of Understanding.

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Kenwood Isles Area Association

Position Statement on Freight Relocation for SWLRT 

Adopted July 1, 2013

Nearly 1.5 miles of the proposed SWLRT runs through the Kenwood Isles Area Association neighborhood.  We vehemently oppose the idea of maintaining freight rail along with light rail at grade in the Kenilworth Corridor, known as “co-location.” 

Relocation of freight out of the Kenilworth Corridor has been promised for years.  While the corridor was long used for transporting goods, freight use of Kenilworth was halted in 1993 when the Midtown Greenway was established.  When freight was later re-introduced into the Kenilworth Corridor, Hennepin County assured residents this use of the corridor was temporary. 

Meanwhile, over 20 years of citizen efforts to build and maintain Cedar Lake Park and the Kenilworth Trail have resulted in a more beautiful and complete Grand Rounds and Chain of Lakes.  Traffic on federally funded commuter and recreational bicycle trails in the Kenilworth Corridor grew to over 620,000 visits in 2012.

When the Hennepin County Regional Railroad Authority began looking at using the Kenilworth Corridor for LRT, several key studies and decisions reiterated the expectation that, if Kenilworth is to be used for transit, then the freight line must be relocated. (See notes below.)  Trails were to be preserved.  Freight rail was to be considered a separate project with a separate funding stream, according to Hennepin County.  This position was stated publicly on many occasions, including Community Advisory Committee meetings and Policy Advisory Committee meetings.

Minneapolis residents have positively contributed to the SWLRT process based on the information that freight and light rail would not co-exist in the Kenilworth Corridor.  Although many of us think that Kenilworth is not the best route, most have participated in the spirit of cooperation and compromise to make the SWLRT the best it can be.

Despite numerous engineering studies on rerouting the freight rail, it was not until December 2012 that the current freight operator in the Kenilworth Corridor, TC&W, decided to weigh in publicly on the location of its freight rail route.  TC&W rejected the proposed reroute. 

The Met Council has responded by advancing new proposals for both rerouting the freight and keeping it in the Kenilworth Corridor.  For either option, these proposals range from the hugely impactful to the very expensive – or both.  Six of the eight proposals call for “co-location” despite the temporary status of freight in Kenilworth.  The Kenilworth proposals include the destruction of homes, trails, parkland, and green space.  Most of the proposals would significantly add to the noise, safety issues, visual impacts, traffic backups, and other environmental impacts identified in the DEIS.   

This is not a NIMBY issue.  The Kenilworth Trail provides safe, healthy recreational and commuter options for the city and region.   It is functionally part of our park system.  The Kenilworth Corridor is priceless green space that cannot be replaced. 

For over a decade public agencies have stated that freight rail must be relocated to make way for LRT through the Kenilworth Corridor.  If this position is reversed midway through the design process for SWLRT, the residents of Kenwood Isles would find this a significant breach of the public trust.

Simply stated, none of the co-location proposals are in keeping with the project goals of preserving the environment, protecting the quality of life, and creating a safe transit mode compatible with existing trails. 

This has been a deeply flawed process, and we reject any recommendation for at-grade co-location in the Kenilworth Corridor.  If freight doesn’t work in St. Louis Park, perhaps it’s time to rethink the Locally Preferred Alternative.

Notes

1) The 29th Street and Southwest Corridor Vintage Trolley Study (2000) noted that, “To implement transit service in the Southwest Corridor, either a rail swap with Canadian Pacific Rail or a southern interconnect must occur.”

2) The FTA-compliant Alternatives Analysis (2005-2007) defines the Kenilworth section of route 3A for the proposed Southwest Light Rail in this way:  “Just north of West Lake Street the route enters an exclusive (LRT) guideway in the HCRRA’s Kenilworth Corridor to Penn Avenue” (page 25).  This study goes on to say that “to construct and operate an exclusive transit-only guideway in the HCRRA’s Kenilworth Corridor the existing freight rail service must be relocated” (page 26).

3) The “Locally Preferred Alternative” (LPA) recommended by HCRRA (10/29/2009) to participating municipalities and the Metropolitan Council included a recommendation that freight rail relocation be considered as a separate “parallel process.”

4) In adopting HCRRA’s recommended Locally Preferred Alternative based on treating relocation of the freight rail as a separate process, the City of Minneapolis’ Resolution (January, 2010) stated:

“Be It Further Resolved that the current environmental quality, natural conditions, wildlife, urbanforest, and the walking and biking paths be preserved and protected during construction and operationof the proposed Southwest LRT line. 

Be It Further Resolved that any negative impacts to the parks and park-like surrounding areasresulting from the Southwest LRT line are minimized and that access to Cedar Lake Park, Cedar LakeRegional Trail, Kenilworth Trail and the Midtown Greenway is retained.”

5) The Draft Environmental Impact Statement supports the Locally Preferred Alternative, which includes relocation of freight out of the Kenilworth Corridor.  (December, 2012)

6) The southwesttransitway.org has stated since its inception that:

Hennepin County and its partners are committed to ensuring that a connected system of trails is retained throughout the southwest metro area.  Currently, there are four trails that may be affected by a Southwest LRT line. They are the Southwest LRT trail, the Kenilworth trail, the Cedar Lake Park trail, and the Midtown Greenway. These trails are all located on property owned by the HCRRA. The existing walking and biking trails will be maintained; there is plenty of space for light rail and the existing trails. Currently, rails and trails safely coexist in more than 60 areas of the United States.

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The Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for the Southwest Light Rail project documents the potential social and environmental impacts of this light rail project, the proposed route for which will pass through Kenwood along the Kenilworth Trail. The final KIAA response to the DEIS was formulated with input from Kenwood residents. The document can be read by clicking on this link:

DEIS KIAA final

KIAA is working on its response to the Southwest Transitway Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS). The DEIS is now available for review and comment at southwesttransitway.orgThe DEIS documents the potential social and environmental impacts of this light rail project, the proposed route for which will pass through Kenwood along the Kenilworth Trail.  Comments must be submitted by Tuesday, December 11. KIAA’s draft response can be found in the links below. Please consider submitting your own response on the DEIS by following the instructions on the website mentioned above, and also provide input on KIAA’s response by emailing Jeanette Colby, KIAA LRT Committee Chair, at jmcolby@earthlink.net, or by attending KIAA’s December 3rd meeting (7 pm at the Kenwood Rec Center). KIAA’s draft response to the DEIS:

DEIS Introduction

DEIS Ch2 Alternatives

DEIS Social Effects

DEIS Ch4 Environment

DEIS Ch5 Economic

DEIS Ch6 Transportation

(scroll to the bottom of the page for other KIAA / LRT – related documents)

Southwest Transitway DEIS Now Available

The Southwest Transitway Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) is now available for your review and comment at southwesttransitway.org.  The DEIS documents the potential social and environmental impacts of this proposed project.

For the most up-to-date information regarding the Southwest LRT project, visit  www.southwesttransitway.org

Southwest LRT Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) Public Hearings Set  November 13th, 14th and 29th

The important information below, dated September 25th, 2012, appears on Hennepin County’s southwesttransitway.org web site.

The Hennepin County Regional Railroad Authority has scheduled three public hearings in November to formally gather public comments on the Southwest Light Rail Transit (LRT) Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS). The DEIS is scheduled for publication in the Federal Register on Friday, Oct. 12; the comment period will be 60 days, extended from the minimum requirement of 45 days due to the Thanksgiving Holiday.

The Southwest LRT DEIS will be available online as a searchable document on the southwesttransit.org website. Hard copies will be available at the Hennepin County 701 Building; Hennepin County Library locations; the city halls along the proposed route and the Southwest LRT Project Office. For immediate notification of DEIS publication, please sign up for the project email list.

Public comment on the impact statement will inform preliminary engineering on the project, which is scheduled to begin in early 2013.

The public hearings will each be preceded by an open house, where people can learn more about the Southwest LRT project and the DEIS.

·           4:30 p.m. (4 p.m. Open House) Tuesday, Nov. 13, Hennepin County Government Center, 300 S. Sixth St., Minneapolis map

·           6 p.m. (5 p.m. Open House) Wednesday, Nov. 14, St. Louis Park City Hall, 5005 Minnetonka Blvd., St. Louis Park map

·           6 p.m. (5 p.m. Open House) Thursday, Nov. 29, Eden Prairie City Hall, 8080 Mitchell Road, Eden Prairie map

In addition to formal testimony at one of the three public hearings, comments can be submitted:

· By email: Written comments can be submitted to swcorridor@co.hennepin.mn.us.

· By U.S. Mail: 701 Fourth Avenue South, Suite 400, Minneapolis, MN 55415

All comments received on the impact statement will be forwarded to the Metropolitan Council, which will be responsible for responding to the comments during the Final Environmental Impact Statement phase of project development.

Southwest Light Rail Transit Update – March 2011

Planning for the proposed Southwest LRT between Eden Prairie and downtown
Minneapolis continues. Because a station stop is planned at 21st Street, a number of KIAA Board members participated in station area planning beginning last summer and concluding on February 28th. The final product can be found at www.southwesttransitway.org/station-area-planning.html.

Two KIAA Board members, Eric Sjoding and Jeanette Colby, are part of the
Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board’s Community Advisory Committee (CAC). www.minneapolisparks.org/default.asp?PageID=1247

In preparation for a response to the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS), the CAC is charged with developing recommendations related to the proposed corridor and LRT’s potential impacts on parkland. The County initially believed that the DEIS would be made public in November, but it is now not likely to be released before the end of April. Finally, KIAA has been following the heated discussion in St. Louis Park of the expected relocation of freight trains. These trains currently run about four times per day through the Kenilworth corridor, and their relocation is a requirement for building the SWLRT. Hennepin County has assured constituents that “the existing walking and biking trails will be maintained” and that they can safely co-exist with light rail. With advocacy, high standards, creativity, and use of available tools and partnerships, KIAA hopes that the proposed SWLRT can be a national example of excellence in transit design.

Jeanette Colby, KIAA LRT Committee Chair

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(click on a topic below to view a PDF related to that topic)

KIAA_Station_Response_2011 (PDF)

Joint_Neighborhood_LRT_Design_Goals (PDF)

City_of_Mpls_LRT_Locally_Preferred_Alternative_Resolution (PDF)

KIAA_LRT_2008_Resolution (PDF)