Rethink options on Southwest commuter rail

  • Article by: Editorial Board , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 4, 2013 - 7:55 AM

For this and for future transit lines, Met Council needs to get it right.

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briechersAug. 2, 13 8:57 PM

Is it just too much to ask for the program benefits to be broken down into cash (hard money) benefits, indirect benefits and "quality-of-life" benefits? The central corridor benefits were simply labeled "medium." Even negative returns are helpful for decision making. The central corridor requires 70% subsidy for the ongoing operating cost...no one even imagines that it will pay back the $1 billion investment. Surely, we can spend our money more effectively than this. BTW, some government investments do delivery hard money returns on investments. It can be done.

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smdentAug. 3, 13 6:14 PM

Do highways, freeways, and other surfaces design to move fossil-burning fueled vehicles "pay back?" Of course not. The money we spend maintaining, plowing, filling pot holes etc. is astronomical. If there is a conflict with nature or neighbors, make an investment by putting it underground. Yes, it costs more in the initial investment, but long term savings is well worth the investment. We are an urban area and having underground transportation in this climate is not a bad solution. I just wish the Metropolitan Council had put the LRT on 5th underground. Come on folks, like it or not, we're a big city. It's time to act like one.

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lordhawhaw1Aug. 3, 13 7:23 PM

"Do highways, freeways, and other surfaces design to move fossil-burning fueled vehicles "pay back?" Of course not." No actually they do and then some. Do you think light rail transit and all those bicycle lanes good for only six months a year are paying for themselves? Ever heard of a gas tax or a registration fee? Do bicyclists pay for that? Bottom line is if bicycles and trains were the answer we'd already be doing it.

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steve89Aug. 3, 13 9:14 PM

Probably want to change your headline. It refers to commuter rail, but the editorial is about light rail. Not the same things.

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mnpls123Aug. 4, 13 6:56 AM

A new record!!! Only took 3 posts to get a whine about bicycles not paying their fair share.

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ckrbkierAug. 4, 13 9:02 AM

Thank you editorial board for making a bold challenge to relook at the alignment of SWLRT. This decision was made years ago and things have changed or have not been adequately addressed as it relates to the environment, cost and impact on communities along the line.

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thomjmillerAug. 4, 13 9:57 AM

SWLRT options The Star Tribune’s editorial board got the story mostly right in Sunday’s piece on “Rethink options on Southwest light rail”. Another route that takes the planned light rail trains to higher users of public transportation should certainly be put back on the table. However, in studying this topic for years it has become overwhelmingly clear that the process for determining the route was neither “transparent”, nor “collaborative” as the paper’s editorial states. The fact is that the freight rail issue was deliberately and overtly left out of the discussion of the LRT path. In fact, Hennepin County so badly wanted to keep the two unrelated, they asked MNDOT to handle the freight rail problem for them. MNDOT then created an Environmental Assessment Worksheet (EAW) to do just that; re-route the freight trains through St. Louis Park. Only after a legal appeal of MNDOT’s EAW by members of our group and the City of St. Louis Park was that plan foiled. Then, the FTA made it clear to Hennepin County that if they planned on getting federal funding for SWLRT, the freight rail would have to be formally connected to the SWLRT project. The TC&W (the freight railroad whose route could be changed) wrote in their August 3nd Star Tribune editorial that the planned re-route never worked for them. Throughout this “collaborative” process, the TC&W made it clear that the re-route was unsafe, unprofitable and impractical. And during the “transparent” process to choose the Locally Preferred Alternative (LPA) light rail route, the City of St. Louis Park had publicly stated their opposition to the re-route. These points were made numerous times to Hennepin County over many years, yet officials such as Hennepin County Commissioners Gail Dorfman and Peter Mclaughlin continued to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars hiring consultants to tell the TC&W and St. Louis Park that the re-route was going to happen, was in fact “a done deal.” Now, we’ve lost years of planning time to make SWLRT a reality. We agree with the Star-Tribune; this time, do it right. Jami LaPray and Thom Miller, Co-Chairs, Safety in the Park. Safety in the Park is a neighborhood advocacy group based in St. Louis Park and is opposed to the freight rail re-route.

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garagewineAug. 4, 1311:03 AM

"But not doing so is sure to solidify their resistance, and may make Southwest light-rail transit a political issue instead of the business-friendly infrastructure investment the project should rightly be considered."---Southwest LRT has always been a political issue. That is the only way it has been able to stay alive. No business in their right mind would waste money on this thing.

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garagewineAug. 4, 1311:16 AM

"The central corridor benefits were simply labeled "medium." Even negative returns are helpful for decision making."----This is an important point. Contrary to the editorial writer's characterization of the alternatives analysis as a hard-headed, "data-driven" (I always love that one) process, a look at the actual documents reveals several decision criteria that are entirely subjective and give the planners considerable latitude to arbitrarily assign good or bad outcomes to each option. Given the enormous cost increases that have been projected, Met Council should be reconsidering not only the alignment but the mode itself and looking at dramatically less costly non-rail options.

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dflleftAug. 4, 1311:20 AM

THE CURRENT cost to run the northstar out to big lake is $24 per passenger and they charge about $7...YOU pay the difference; thats what you can look forward to with this project.

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