St. Louis Park residents protest light rail, freight plan - New York News

St. Louis Park residents protest light rail, freight plan

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Photo by Paul Blume Photo by Paul Blume

Although the Metropolitan Council hopes to have the light rail project finalized in a month, residents in St. Louis Park aren't ready to see the plans for the train leave the station just yet.

As the Monday night protest made clear, the residents won't stay silent about a plan they see as bad for children, neighborhoods and quality of life in their community. Their message is clear: No freight train re-routing through the heart of their city.

"Both ideas are wasteful, idiotic, stupid -- words like that," Fran Schmit told FOX 9 News.

Even those who already live next to the tracks say they are concerned about the noise additional traffic can bring.

"We're concerned about noise level and them disrupting the education program for kids," Beth Selvig said. "Right now, they stop class when a train goes by."

Yet, with the federal government considering whether to fund half of the project, the Met Council wants to sign off on final plans for the 16-mile Southwest Light Rail Corridor connecting Eden Prairie with downtown Minneapolis. The biggest stumbling block on the $1.5-billion project is the narrow Kennilworth Corridor that runs between the Lake of the Isles and Cedar Lake in Minneapolis.

Residents and politicians in the vicinity don't want steady light rail and freight train traffic on the tracks because they say it will disrupt the quality of life there and impact the nearby recreational trail.

"There are a lot of implications about the impact there is going to be on our ability to use this corridor," Minnesota Sen. Scott Dibble told FOX 9 News.

Several ideas are still on the table, including the possibility of tunneling. A shallow, less-expensive tunnel -- or a $330-million subway-like system -- could essentially hide the trains and contain the noise.

The Met Council also proposed moving the freight traffic out of the area altogether -- but that puts it through St. Louis Park and families hope to put the brakes on the idea.

Dibble, who chairs the Senate Transportation Committee, told FOX 9 News he feels the project should be put on hold until other workable options are explored.

"We really need to make the right decision because this is a 50- to 100-year investment," he said.

There are several more meetings before the Metropolitan Council will vote on the project. For now, council members are talking with freight line operators in the hopes of finding an affordable solution that will ensure safety and keep the communities happy.

The final vote is scheduled for Sept. 25.

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