After a torturous, blundering, contentious planning process to route a commuter train from the southwest suburbs into downtown Minneapolis, it’s finally come to this: on May 13, 2019, the Kenilworth Trail will be closed and earthmovers will lumber in a few days later to scrape the corridor clean.
The battle has gone on for almost 40 years (see the October 1984 Hill & Lake Press front page, below), and it’s been epic. The loss of irreplaceable urban woodlands and critical pollinator habitat will be felt by the hundreds of thousands of people who bike, walk, and savor the Kenilworth Corridor’s rare oasis of open-air beauty. The loss will also be felt by the couple hundred thousand Minneapolis residents who will never get to use the train, even though their taxes are paying for it, because this $2-billion mass-transit behemoth completely bypasses the densely populated south side of the city.
Here is the story from the April 26, 2019, Hill & Lake Press.
Here is an August 2009 article, “Southwest Minneapolis’ Transit Route Selection Process May Rule Out Light Rail to Uptown,” from The Transport Politic website, detailing why the Kenilworth route was “the wrong decision.” The reasons from ten years ago are even more valid today. The highlights are mine.
Here is the front page of the October 1984 Hill & Lake Press, with its prescient headline.
True, February 2019 was the snowiest February on record and the fourth-snowiest month since modern record-keeping began in 1885-86. True, shoveling and plowing all that snow is a herculean job. And true, clearing sidewalks on bridges is problematic when the plows throw snow from the road back up onto the sidewalk. But really … four days after the last snowfall and this is what we still have to deal with? Here is the story.
Depends on who you know and whether you’re in the right place at the right time. It kind of slipped out at the February 14 Cedar-Isles-Dean Neighborhood Association that some residents had received letters from the Southwest Project Office informing them that the SWLRT contractor’s subcontractor would be doing a pre-construction status inspection. When several people who live within a stone’s throw of the construction zone asked why they hadn’t received a letter, an SPO spokesperson said you had to live within 95 feet of the construction zone to be eligible. WHAT?!! So if you live 96 feet from the zone and weren’t at the CIDNA meeting, you’d know nothing about this. And when construction of the 60-foot-deep tunnel causes damage to your home, without that pre-construction inspection you’re out of luck. And the SPO wonders why we don’t trust a word that comes out of their mouths. Here is the story.
We stared in disbelief at the Minneapolis 2040 Built Form map, meant to direct development throughout the city: it called for a Corridor 4 district, meaning four-story apartment buildings, on the county-owned land along the east side of the Kenilworth Corridor. Unintentional error? Or a trial balloon from planners intent on densifying the entire city? Either way, Hill and Lake residents pushed back — hard. This is the story.
In a classic example of the sunk-cost fallacy, Hennepin County commissioners voted on May 31 to give the mammoth Southwest LRT another $204 million. “Given how much we’ve already spent, we can’t stop now” seemed to be the overriding sentiment. Concerns of Calhoun Isles condo tower residents remain in limbo. Here is the story.
It seems so obvious: mass transit should run where masses of people live and work, not in the wooded, park-like Kenilworth Corridor where wildlife outnumbers people. What’s more, the costliest infrastructure project in Minnesota history spurns the city’s development and density goals for the two Kenilworth Corridor stations. Here is the story.