Complicated. It's probably the only way to describe the situation around managing freight rail with the forthcoming Southwest Light Rail Transit project.
July 17th, the Metropolitan Council (which is managing the SW LRT project) released a bunch of new information that relates to design in the Kenilworth Corridor and impacts to Kenilworth Trail.
An Open House near the Kenilworth Trail drew more than 300 people, including many bicycle supporters.
Here are some key info with observations included:
The base cost for addressing freight rail challenges is $85 million. Each of the figures below is in addition to that.
Relocation of the freight rail to St. Louis Park seems highly unlikely given an extra $200+ million price tag and local impacts.
Building an LRT tunnel in the Kenilworth Corridor costs at least an extra $150 million, which isn't accounted for in the current project budget. It would also mean eliminating the 21st Street Station.
The cheapest option is relocating the Kenilworth Trail at an extra $35-40 million. There are not a lot of details on this, but it would go along the Cedar Lake Parkway trail and includes new overpasses. It likely would take people about one mile out of the way for a trip between the Midtown Greenway and Kenilworth Trail and downtown. It would also eliminate most of the Kenilworth Trail. Neither of those are attractive options.
The second cheapest option is fitting the freight rail, LRT, and trail on the ground level. This requires the removal of 26 residential properties and costs an extra $50-55 million. The available packet does not include information on how narrow the trail would be in this scenario. It's hard to evaluate this option without more information, but previous indications are that the trail would get quite narrow and certainly most or all of the greenspace would be lost. The City of Minneapolis has previously opposed a similar design (City has opposed co-location all together).
They also include an option that elevates the trail. That seems unlikely given previous input. It costs an extra $50-55 million.
The reality is that all of these options have challenges. The Coalition is still evaluating and will report more later.
Did you attend the meeting? What's your take?