Time to reconsider routing LRT along the Midtown Greenway

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September 9, 2013
By: Keith and Nancy Sjoquist
Keith and Nancy Sjoquist

As a life long resident and a resident of the Uptown resident for the last 36 years I am very concerned about the latest developments in the LRT Planning process.

My wife and I have attended most of the meetings that occurred in the beginning phases of the process last spring. At that time the planners were considering options that included a route through Uptown and then turning north to downtown via First Avenue or Nicollet Avenue. The decision to select the Kenilworth Trail as the preferred was made and some of the reasons given were the Uptown route was too expensive (about $10 or $15 million more) and the expense of running the route down existing residential or business streets would be very harmful to the neighborhoods.

At all of the meetings in the Uptown neighborhood there was great support for routing it through Uptown with a station location at the Transfer Station on Hennepin Avenue. There is a definite need for the LRT to provide access along the Midtown Greenway to downtown Minneapolis.

I attended a Park Board meeting last week where the two options of the Deep Tunnel or the Shallow Trench Options were discussed and both of these options are extremely expensive and could cause considerable environmental damage and future dangers from water damage to the tunnels or the trench options.

The Park Board Committee chose not to support either option. Because of all of the political and cost ramifications I would like to see the planners re-examine the Uptown Option. This would allow the existing Kenilworth Trail to remain as is with the bicycle/walking trail and railroad freight line sharing the trail. The LRT line would be routed down the Greenway and join the existing LRT line at Hiawatha Avenue. There could be transit station locations at Uptown, Allina/Midtown, and the Hiawatha junction. This would allow the passengers to opt for a bus route to downtown at any of the stations or stay on the LRT for a direct connection with downtown or the Mall of America or the Mpls/St. Paul Airport.

Even though this option may involve some reworking of the bridges along the Greenway this would be far less expensive than either of the Deep Tunnel or Shallow Trench options that they are currently reviewing. It would also be less environmentally damaging now and there would be less risk of future disasters from water from the lakes or storms. I strongly urge the planners and the affected communities to investigate the Uptown LRT line option.

Keith and Nancy Sjoquist