The Metropolitan Council, in conjunction with Metro Transit, is proposing a Green Line Light Rail Extension from downtown Minneapolis to Eden Prairie. This project is now in the engineering phase and construction will start in 2015. The line is expected to be completed by 2018. While most of this light rail line will not conflict with the current bicycle infrastructure, there will be a major competition between walkers, bikers, a freight train line and this light rail for space on a certain section of the Kenilworth Trail.
This competition will require the Met Council to choose between two competing visions. One vision, named ”relocation,” would relocate freight train tracks away from the Kenilworth Trail and run them through St. Louis Park. (Currently about 20 freight trains run along that line each week.) There are 3 possible relocation routes. The other vision, named “co-location,” would, after acquiring through condemnation homes on 55 parcels and commercial buildings on 7 parcels, attempt to squeeze in the freight line, the light rail line, and the bike and pedestrian trail along the current Kenilworth Trail. The Minneapolis Bicycle Coalition is concerned that if this co-location squeeze does not work out, planners will recommend the complete removal of bicycle and pedestrian facilities along a portion of the Kenilworth Trail.
There is significant opposition to each plan from residents who live in the affected areas, although for now, there appears to be more opposition from St. Louis Park residents. Some St. Louis Park residents have been heard to say: “You mean to tell me you would route freight trains through our neighborhood just to save a bike path!” But this is no mere bike path: the Kenilworth Trail serves about 3,000 bicyclists each day on average and forms a critical link to the Midtown Greenway, the Cedar Lake Trail, and the Cedar Lake Parkway.
The Minneapolis Bicycle Coalition is firmly in favor of relocation and our Board has passed a Resolution to that effect. But so far, most of the Met Council engineering staff recommendations favor co-location. The Coalition will continue to advocate for the relocation solution in our discussions with decision makers and we will keep you updated as the decision process proceeds. Our goal will be to keep a safe, bicycle and pedestrian path along the entire Kenilworth Trail.