On May 13th, the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) published the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) on the Metropolitan Council’s Southwest LRT Project, a major step forward for the $1.79 billion project. The Met Council is the regional policy-making body, planning agency, and a provider of essential services for the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan region.

The FEIS

The FEIS outlines the Met Council’s commitments to deal with those impacts throughout construction and operation of the Southwest LRT Project.

“Input from the public directly shaped the Southwest LRT Project,” said Metropolitan Council Chair Adam Duininck. “The public raised concerns about noise, visual quality impacts, water resources and safety, among other issues. 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.

“This is a major step forward for the communities who have supported this project for years. It reinforces the need for the State Legislature to take action in the next week to provide the remaining $135 million to help us leverage $895 million in federal funds; without action, those federal funds will go to a transit project somewhere else in the country” said Metropolitan Council Chair Adam Duininck in a Press Release.

Noise & Vibration Impacts

Among many other mitigation measures outlined in the FEIS, Met Council will install resilient track fasteners in a LRT tunnel and adjust horn and bell usage to reduce or eliminate noise and vibration in the Southwest LRT Project alignment.

The FEIS describes the decision to co-locate freight rail and LRT in the existing rail corridor in St. Louis Park and Minneapolis based on extensive public input and analysis of freight railroad location and water resources issues.

“Community engagement has been critical in assuring the concerns of the public are heard and addressed. Thousands of people have weighed in over the last few years. Results from this extensive public input process have been incorporated into the FEIS and have helped to fine tune the final report resulting in a stronger project, sensitive to the needs and desires of those the Southwest LRT will serve,” Hopkins Mayor Molly Cummings said.

The Southwest LRT

The Southwest LRT Project (METRO Green Line Extension) will operate from downtown Minneapolis through the communities of St. Louis Park, Hopkins, Minnetonka, and Eden Prairie, passing in close proximity to the city of Edina. The line will connect major activity centers in the region including downtown Minneapolis, Methodist Hospital in St. Louis Park, downtown Hopkins and the Opus/Golden Triangle employment area in Minnetonka and Eden Prairie. Ridership in 2040 is forecasted at approximately 34,000 average weekday boardings. The project will interline with the METRO Green Line, which will provide a one-seat ride to destinations such as the University of Minnesota, state Capitol and downtown St. Paul. It will be part of an integrated system of transitways, including connections to the METRO Blue Line, the proposed METRO Blue Line Extension, the Northstar Commuter Rail line, a variety of major bus routes along the alignment, and proposed future transitway and rail lines. The Southwest LRT Project website is www.swlrt.org.