Issues in St. Louis Park
January 29, 2014
In the St. Louis Park portion of the project, running the light rail tracks could cause the freight trains in the city to have to be relocated. One proposal is to reroute the freight trains through the center of St. Louis Park, on elevated two-story beams. These beams would run through the playground at Park Spanish Immersion, and directly behind the bleachers of the football stadium at St. Louis Park High School. This would pose a number of obvious safety threats if anything was to go wrong with the train, such as a derailment. “There are significant safety issues in doing [the reroute] and even the railroad companies have indicated that they do not favor the reroute options for that very reason,” said St. Louis Park Mayor, Jeff Jacobs.
Safety in the Park, a grassroots, volunteer-based, neighborhood organization, is dedicated to ensuring a safe alternative solution to the proposed reroute through St. Louis Park. “For the last 4 years we have asked for the same thing: The residents who would have to reside near re-routed freight must be as safe as the residents who currently reside near that freight. In other words, distance from schools to freight must be the same, distance to single family homes must be the same, and so on,” said Jami LaPray, St. Louis Park resident, and Safety in the Park Co-Chair.
While safety is the prime concern of the City of St. Louis Park, a number of homes and properties would have to be removed in order to allow for the reroute. “A reroute would also likely entail demolishing 30-40 homes along the route,” said Mayor Jacobs.
The City of St. Louis Park does have an alternative to the proposed freight reroute––keeping the freight lines where they currently are in St. Louis Park, and co-locating the light rail alongside the freight, running it through a shallow underground tunnel in the Kenilworth corridor of Minneapolis. “The shallow tunnel option seems to us to be best and is less expensive, less impactful on nearby residents and businesses, and safer,” Mayor Jacobs said.