Newspaper article MinnPost.com

Minneapolis Passes Municipal Consent for Southwest LRT; Park Board Approves Designs for Kenilworth Bridges

Newspaper article MinnPost.com

Minneapolis Passes Municipal Consent for Southwest LRT; Park Board Approves Designs for Kenilworth Bridges

Article excerpt

A project that seems to take one step backward for every two steps forward took two steps forward this week.

On a 10-3 vote, the Minneapolis City Council gave municipal consent to a revised design and budget for Southwest light rail, which will extend the Green Line from Target Field to Eden Prairie. The city was the final local government to give its consent for the project that, if built, will be the state's most expensive public works project.

The Friday vote followed consent given earlier this week by Hennepin County, and earlier this month by St. Louis Park, Hopkins, Minnetonka and Eden Prairie. The Metropolitan Council is building the 14.5 mile, $1.744 billion project.

Also this week, the Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board gave approval to design concepts for bridges over the Kenilworth Channel. The three bridges -- one for freight, one for light rail and one for bikes and pedestrians -- have also been approved by the state Historic Preservation Office because they impact historic resources.

Only the freight rail bridge would have piers in the water, something the park board wanted kept to a minimum. The light rail bridge will also have low sidewalls to contain noise generated by LRT vehicle wheels.

The approval is significant because it furthers an agreement made between the park board and Met Council in February that ended threats of litigation over the project. The park board had favored a tunnel beneath the channel to minimize the ill effects on the popular connection between Lake of the Isles and Cedar Lake. When the tunnel became too expensive and time consuming, the park board dropped its objections in return for a significant role in bridge designs and other impacts on the parkway.

The board wanted separate bridges that minimized the visual impact and lessened shading on the channel beneath.

The municipal consent process was a repeat of one conducted last summer. After the Met Council reduced the scope of the project and cut the budget by $250 million, council attorneys recommended that the changes were significant enough to trigger a second request for permission. …

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