SOUTHWEST LIGHTRAIL: Met Council's 14-2 vote gives green light - FOX 32 News Chicago

SOUTHWEST LIGHTRAIL: Met Council's 14-2 vote gives green light

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Photo by Bill Keller Photo by Bill Keller

It looks like the discussions over the Southwest Light Rail has finally reached the end of the line because the Metropolitan Council has issued its final vote approving the plan to connect Eden Prairie and Minneapolis and St. Paul.

The Southwest LRT Project, also known as the Green Line Extension Project, is the third in the region and is expected to include 16 stations and an operations and maintenance facility in Hopkins. The final station would be located at Mitchell Road in Eden Prairie, and service is expected to begin in 2019.

The vote on Wednesday also set the project budget between $1.673 billion and $1.683 billion, and supporters of the plan say it will create jobs and foster growth along the Southwest Corridor.

"The beginning of the municipal consent process signifies the conclusion of two and half years of close work between the Council, Hennepin County and the five cities along the line. The next 75 days will give local policymakers a chance to discuss and debate this regional investment and what it will mean to their community. The Council's approval today not only moves the Southwest LRT Project forward, it ensures the further expansion of our regional transit system in other corridors," Council Chair Sue Haigh said.

WHAT COMES NEXT?

The preliminary design plans will now head to Hennepin County, but the cities along the line will still need to approve it. Those plans will be released to the public on Thursday, and will be available both online and at area libraries.

The Metropolitan Council and the Hennepin County Regional Railroad Authority will also hold a joint public hearing on May 12. After that point, the following cities will have 45 days to host their own public hearings and either approve or disapprove of the plans:

- Minneapolis
- St. Louis Park
- Hopkins
- Minnetonka
- Eden Prairie

Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges harshly criticized the plan to put shallow tunnels through the Kenilworth corridor recently, and it remains unclear whether the City Council will sign on.

"We believe the broad benefits of the Southwest LRT, which is a vital regional asset, will help secure consent from all five cities and Hennepin County," Haigh said. "Failing to achieve municipal consent will do more than kill this project; failing here will set transit expansion in our region back by a decade. That is an unacceptable outcome."

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