Southwest light rail plan inches along; 4 of 5 city approvals still needed

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With the long-anticipated debut this week of the Green Line light-rail train, you might be wondering: How's that southwest light rail plan coming?

It's still inching along.

The latest development in the long-running SWLR drama is that five cities along the route need to sign off on the plan by offering their "municipal consent" – and on Tuesday, Hopkins became the first city to do so.

“This line brings jobs to our area, gives our people access to jobs” and boosts the economy, Hopkins Council Member Jason Gadd said, the Star Tribune reported.

Now, four to go: Eden Prairie, Minnetonka, St. Louis Park and Minneapolis.

Eden Prairie's City Council was set to vote on its consent to the plan on Tuesday, but instead delayed a vote until July 14. City leaders are worried about the light-rail and the city's SouthWest Transit bus system sharing a facility, the Eden Prairie Sun Current reported.

“We want to create a multi-modal system. Not replace bus service with the LRT," Mayor Nancy Tyra-Lukens said.

Minnetonka's vote on the plan is expected later this month and a vote in St. Louis Park could come in early July.

Minneapolis has opposed the plan and has not set a vote date on the project. City officials are quietly negotiating with the Metropolitan Council, the rail route planning agency, under the watch of a retired judge as mediator.

It's not clear what the city is requesting, although Mayor Betsy Hodges confirmed the city was not trying to negotiate for a streetcar line, the Star Tribune reports.

Developing the southwest light rail plan to construct a $1.68 billion, 16-mile light-rail route linking Minneapolis and Eden Prairie has been highly controversial and complex.

Among the most contentious issues has been routing the line. Earlier this spring, a group of Twin Cities leaders backed a plan to build shallow light-rail tunnels through the city's Kenilworth Corridor, which Minneapolis leaders strongly oppose.

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