With a major decision looming on the Southwest Corridor light-rail project, funders pressed Monday to hold down the cost of running it through the Kenilworth corridor of Minneapolis near existing freight train traffic and bike trails.
An alternative -- a more expensive rerouting of freight to St. Louis Park to make room for the LRT and trails -- was barely mentioned by the panel of regional officials.
Hennepin County Commissioner Peter McLaughlin said there is "little if any real ability to compel" the railroad to move and that LRT planners "seemed to run out of options" for rerouting it.
The Metropolitan Council, the agency overseeing the LRT project, is preparing to recommend a solution to the freight train problem later this week. Its primary option for keeping the freight in the Kenilworth corridor includes sinking the LRT in two tunnels at a cost of $160 million.
But the agency is also offering a cheaper version involving a single tunnel. And at least one member of the regional panel raised the prospect of cutting costs further by ditching the tunnels, running the LRT at ground level and elevating the bike trail in the narrowest part of the corridor.
Others expressed concerns that the project's rising costs will hurt other transit projects.
Pat Doyle -- 612-673-4504
Copyright 2013 - Star Tribune (Minneapolis)