Railroad flexes its muscle over Southwest LRT

  • Article by: Pat Doyle , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 12, 2013 - 10:00 PM

TC&W complained Met Council isn’t listening to its concerns.

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fauxboSep. 12, 1310:28 PM

Mr. Wegner sounds like the voice of reason in this fiasco and his company should be compensated for evaluating eight re-routing options. I'm certain everyone else is getting paid, why not him?

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alansonSep. 12, 1310:39 PM

It seems obvious at this point that the Met Council is trying to do this on the cheap. They underbudgeted in the first place (a not uncommon tactic for public agencies) and now are trying to find someone, anyone, to make up the difference. It's about time this unelected, undemocratic and unaccountable body was stopped from riding roughshod over the public. Met Council should be abolished. It's transportation functions should be merged into the Minnesota Department of Transportation where they belong. It's hard to see how Minnesota integrated transportation problems can be solved when two duplicative, yet incompatible, agencies think they alone are responsible for coming up with solutions. Twice the bureaucrats, twice the waste.

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marketerSep. 12, 1310:50 PM

As myself and others have stated in other forums; the RR is in charge here because municipalities can't force them to sell and they can't use eminent domain. I still think the best way is to use the Kenilworth corridor for trains (both LRT and freight) and reroute the bike/walking trail in the tight areas. Burnham Road and Saint Louis Avenue could be used to accommodate a trail and leave room for the rails in the pinch points.

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mnice4everSep. 12, 1310:59 PM

There are 8 options to deal with the freight rail issue. Here are the 8 options and costs associated with each option. 1- Light rail and freight rail in Kenilworth freight rail corridor with the bike trail relocated = $35 million. 2 - Light rail and freight rail in Kenilworth freight rail corridor with the bike trail elevated = $50 million. 3 - Light rail and freight rail in Kenilworth freight rail corridor with both rail lines at grade level = $50 million. 4 - Light rail and freight rail in Kenilworth freight rail corridor with light rail elevated = $105 million. 5 - Light rail and freight rail in Kenilworth freight rail corridor with light rail in a shallow tunnel = $150 million. 6 - Light rail and freight rail in Kenilworth freight rail corridor with light rail in deep bore tunnel = $320 million. 7 - Re-route freight rail traffic from the Kenilworth freight rail corridor into St. Louis Park neighborhood running next to multiple schools, businesses and houses on two story berms = $200 million. 8 - Re-route freight rail traffic from Kenilworth freight rail corridor into St. Louis Park neighborhood running next to multiple schools, businesses and houses on two story berms with a slightly different path than the option 7 path = $200 million. We have a $35 million dollar option on the table and we are comparing it to $200-$300 million dollar options. Let's be logical. Keep the freight rail traffic in the current Kenilworth freight rail corridor since this corridor was designed for freight rail traffic and has no safety concerns from the railroad AND save +$150 million dollars. Freight rail will keep running as usual, light rail development will continue as planned, safety will not be an issue, the bike trail will still exist and we'll save taxpayers +$150 million dollars.

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eviter33Sep. 12, 1311:34 PM

Kudos to the TC&W railroad for calling the Metropolitan Council on the carpet and going public with this information! The Met Council has shown its total inability and unwillingness to heed serious and legitimate safety concerns, raised by the railroad, regarding any re-routed freight trains traveling through the densely packed neighborhoods of St. Louis Park. They've also been unwilling to compensate the TC&W railroad for their help in providing important information that's crucial to this proposed LRT project. So, how in the world can anyone reasonably believe that this body of appointed members has been truthful in any of the many other aspects regarding this project? The more news stories that surface about this project and the Met Council's involvement, the more it seems that they simply want this LRT line to happen and happen now, without any thought at all for safety issues or other consequences that will result from this LRT line and its construction. There should be only two options.....run all the trains through the Kenilworth corridor or kill this project right now!

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teddygSep. 13, 1312:01 AM

Met Council is used to bossing the public around and now comes TC&W, who are smart and can't be bossed around. I wish the little line all the best ... their operators are cautious, they keep their rights of way clean, and the drivers wave to my kids. Good luck to TC&W and Mr. Wegner.

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JMJohnnySep. 13, 1312:29 AM

There is a ninth option that can be added to the eight options listed above by mince4ever. That would be to single track about 600 yards of the LRT line through the Cedar Townhome bottleneck. It would likely cost well under the $35MM lowest cost option shown above by preserving freight and trail trajectories through the area and yet not take any homes. There would be a slight degradation in LRT performance to account for opposing train meets at the bottleneck, but that too can be mitigated by eliminating the costly and unnecessary 21st and Penn Avenue stations. Cutting out these stations, by the way, would do far more to preserve the bucolic tranquility of the Kenilworth rail ROW than getting rid of that third set of tracks and the four daily freights that use them. The gap between either my single track LRT option or mince4ever's lowest cost option and whatever relocation scheme is concocted by the latest round of engineering studies should approach $100mm. How the Met Council could see its way to blow that kind of money pandering to the Kenilworth crowd and the illogical underpinnings of their co-location position is beyond me.

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polymath234Sep. 13, 13 1:19 AM

This plan needs to go back to the drawing board.

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wizeoneSep. 13, 13 1:22 AM

Agree with teddyg, the Met Council members are bullies with little knowledge and too much unelected and unaccountable power. Look at all the small businesses they have killed on University Avenue in Saint Paul with the latest light rail disaster project. They don't care as long as their idealistic dreams are realized, at the expense of many innocent victims.

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mystromllgSep. 13, 13 1:47 AM

As much as I want more transit, the SW line has been plagued by short sightedness and stupidity from the very beginning not to mention favoritism toward wealthy suburbs. The route is stupid in the first place since it won't serve anyone except the suburbanites because of the route skipping the densest part of the Twin Cities: uptown. The C route down Nicollet should have been chosen, but developers and other rich kids trumped that with their chums on the council. Ironically they might now have to pay more than a tunnel under Nicollet would have cost, and they might have to build a tunnel to boot. Sad and stupid that our transit is ruled over by short sighted moneyed interests unlike cities with vision like Denver who managed to roll out all their lines at once in (gasp) a coordinated manner that costs less and gets more for the people and places most likely to care about transit.

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