A Valuable Project?
January 29, 2014
The Metropolitan Council, the driving force behind the project, sees the Southwest LRT as a major advancement for the Twin Cities. “The Southwest LRT is important to the future of our regional transit system. Transit is important in getting people to school, work, and other places. It would bring more people into the cities and out to the suburbs. Currently, 40% of the people downtown use Metro Transit. That number would increase with the Southwest LRT,” Salisbery said.
However, not all agree. “We currently live so close to the city that I am not sure how much the Kenwood neighborhood would benefit from this transit. We’re really talking about commuters who chose to live away from the cities benefitting off of the burden of people who live near the cities,” Eich said.
Projects like this aren’t economically feasible. They cost more than they collect––just look at the Hiawatha Line, or the Northstar Line.”
— Nick Roehl
Supporters of the project argue that even though Kenwood residents may not benefit from the Southwest LRT, other Minneapolis residents would, particularly those in North Minneapolis. “Maybe the light rail won’t benefit the Kenwood neighborhood directly, but it will benefit Minneapolis. The last three stops are in North Minneapolis where it would be low income. It would be beneficial to allow them to get out to Eden Prairie so easily. For people who currently don’t have access to jobs in Eden Prairie, that access will be opened up,” LaPray said.
In turn, the cost is something else that must be considered. Critics such as a Mary O’Connor, treasurer of the Libertarian Party of Minnesota, see project as economically unfeasible. “Buses do just fine. It’s just another expense that we can’t afford,” she said.
LaPray, while opposing the freight reroute, makes it clear that Safety in the Park is not against the Southwest LRT. “I know we’ve been accused of trying to stop Southwest Light Rail. We just want to make sure the freight train re-route is equally safe for everyone in St. Louis Park as it is today,” she said.
Despite the multiple sides of the conflict, Mayor Jacobs tries to remain optimistic that the project will continue. “As much as I want SWLRT to go forward I wish I could give it a better than 50-50 chance of survival at this moment – that may change. Each day frankly brings a different outlook on this whole scenario,” he said.