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5/16/2016



Rail News: Passenger Rail

FTA issues FEIS on Minneapolis' Green Line light-rail extension


The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) late last week published a final environmental impact statement (FEIS) for Metro Transit's $1.79 billion Green Line light-rail extension project in Minneapolis and nearby suburbs.

Photo: Metropolitan Council
The document's release follows years of public feedback and technical analysis completed in conjunction with project staff from the Metropolitan Council. The FEIS responds to comments received on a draft environmental statement and a supplemental environmental statement, which were released in 2012 and 2015, respectively.

Some of the key adjustments examined by the FEIS include installing resilient track fasteners in a Minneapolis light-rail tunnel, adjusting horn and bell usage and building sound walls. The document also calls for moving the alignment in Eden Prairie, Minn., to address concerns about impacts to business entrances along Technology Drive and bringing the line closer to the Eden Prairie Center mall.

The 14.5-mile extension, which is also known as the Southwest Light-Rail transit project, would run from downtown Minneapolis through the communities of St. Louis Park, Hopkins, Minnetonka and Eden Prairie, Minn.

"The public raised concerns about noise, visual quality impacts, water resources and safety, among other issues," said Metropolitan Council Chair Adam Duininck in a press release. "Project staff has worked with federal, state and local partners to make the appropriate design changes and incorporate them into the project plans. The Southwest LRT Project today is stronger — and enjoys broader support — because of the public's input."

The FEIS also describes the decision to co-locate freight and passenger service in the existing rail corridor in St. Louis Park and Minneapolis based on public feedback and analysis of both the freight railroad location and water resources, Metropolitan Council officials said.

Based on that analysis and recommendations from the project's advisory committee, the extension's design was adjusted in April 2014 to keep freight-rail service in the existing corridor along light-rail tracks. In order to retain the freight line and avoid taking residences, the project calls for including a shallow half-mile light-rail tunnel to be built between West Lake Street Station and south of the Kenilworth Channel in Minneapolis.

However, Canadian Pacific's existing freight-rail tracks located farther west on the route will be shifted north about 45 feet to allow light-rail tracks to be built south of the freight tracks. The change also will make the line's stations more accessible to local centers of activity, while retaining a nearby walking trail, Met Council officials said.

The council will continue accepting public comments on the FEIS until June 13. Then, the FTA will need to issue a record of the decision.



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