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Key Southwest LRT Study Published for Public Review

Officials are seeking input on the draft environmental impact statement released Friday morning.

The Southwest Light Rail Transit Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) is available for public comment following publication in the Federal Register on Friday.

The DEIS will be used to judge the impacts of the proposed Southwest LRT project and is the primary document for review by federal, state and local agencies and the general public.

It documents:

  • The purpose and need for the project,
  • Alternatives considered,
  • Anticipated transportation impacts,
  • Expected environmental effects and
  • Appropriate mitigation measures.

The DEIS is available for review at http://www.southwesttransitway.org. Hard copies are also available. A list of locations where those copies are kept is included at the bottom of this article.

Public input on the DEIS will be used to inform preliminary engineering, which is scheduled to begin in early 2013. The public comment period will last 60 days. The deadline to submit comments is Dec. 11.

Comments can be submitted three different ways:

  • Email: Written comments can be submitted to swcorridor@co.hennepin.mn.us.
  • U.S. Mail: Hennepin County Housing, Community Works and Transit; Attn: Southwest Transitway; 701 Fourth Ave. S., Suite 400; Minneapolis, MN 55415
  • Public Hearings: Residents can offer formal testimony at one of the three public hearings hosted in November.

The public hearings will each be preceded by an open house, where people can learn more about the Southwest LRT project and the DEIS. The dates are:

  • 4:30 p.m. (4 p.m. Open House) Tuesday, Nov. 13, Hennepin County Government Center, 300 S. Sixth St., Minneapolis.
  • 6 p.m. (5 p.m. Open House) Wednesday, Nov. 14, St. Louis Park City Hall, 5005 Minnetonka Blvd., St. Louis Park.
  • 6 p.m. (5 p.m. Open House) Thursday, Nov. 29, Eden Prairie City Hall, 8080 Mitchell Road, Eden Prairie.

All comments received on the impact statement will be forwarded to the Metropolitan Council, which will be responsible for responding to the comments during the Final Environmental Impact Statement phase of project development.

The Southwest LRT, a 15-mile line that will connect downtown Minneapolis with Eden Prairie via a route through the west metro suburbs, is expected to open in 2018.

Costs are estimated to run around $1.25 billion. The Federal Transit Administration is expected to pay for up to half of the line, with local sources picking up the rest. To date, local legislators have failed to secure $25 million in bonding bill funding, although Gov. Mark Dayton did approve a $2 million grant for Southwest LRT in September.

The project has also received $47 million from the Hennepin County Regional Rail Authority, the Counties Transit Improvement Board and the state.

The FTA is the lead federal lead agency, and the HCRRA is the lead state agency. The Metropolitan Council became the project sponsor and federal grantee on Sept. 2, 2011, when the Southwest Light Rail Transit project was accepted into the federal New Starts program.

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Locations of DEIS hard copies

  • Hennepin County, Housing, Community Works and Transit, 701 Fourth Ave. S., Suite 400, Minneapolis
  • Southwest LRT Project Office, 6465 Wayzata Blvd., Suite 500, St. Louis Park
  • Eden Prairie City Hall, 8080 Mitchell Road, Eden Prairie
  • Edina City Hall, 4801 West 50th St., Edina
  • Hopkins City Hall, 1010 First St. S., Hopkins
  • Minneapolis City Hall, 350 S. Fifth St., Minneapolis
  • Minnetonka City Hall, 14600 Minnetonka Blvd, Minnetonka
  • St. Louis Park City Hall, 5005 Minnetonka Blvd., St. Louis Park

Hard copies are also available at the following Hennepin County Library locations:

  • Eden Prairie, 565 Prairie Center Dr., Eden Prairie
  • Edina, 5280 Grandview Square, Edina
  • Franklin, 1314 E. Franklin Ave., Minneapolis
  • Hopkins, 22 11th Ave. N, Hopkins
  • Linden Hills, 2900 West 43rd St., Minneapolis
  • Minneapolis Central, 300 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis
  • Minnetonka, 17524 Excelsior Blvd., Minnetonka
  • St. Louis Park, 3240 Library Lane, St. Louis Park.
  • Sumner, 611 Van White Memorial Blvd., Minneapolis
Daryl Fryxell October 12, 2012 at 03:38 PM
I hope that the environmentalist whackos will tie this up in court for years. How many insect and bird habitats will be destroyed by this project? How many animals will be displaced? There are going to be countless species impacted by this wasteful project. Stop it now dead in its tracks.
Jack Donovan October 15, 2012 at 08:12 PM
Hey -- the freight rail will be coming through the heart of SLP -- Dorfman guarantees it...she is intent on keeping the old girls club bond strong and upholding the politcal deal cut by Dee Long...Gail -- what's happened to you? Have you finally become what you hate? A politician with no scruples?

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