Federal Judge Rules for Met Council on Southwest Light Rail Project Tunnel Plan

Federal Judge Rules for Met Council on Southwest Light Rail Project Tunnel Plan Photo: KSTP

February 27, 2018 02:43 PM

A federal judge has ruled that proper procedures were followed in the approval of a portion of the proposed Southwest Light Rail route, finding for the Metropolitan Council in a lawsuit filed by Minneapolis residents.

The proposed line would connect downtown Minneapolis and the southwestern suburbs, and would pass through the Kenilworth Corridor, a one-and-a-half mile strip of land in Minneapolis that currently contains a freight train line and a bike/running path.


RELATED: Light Rail Debate Continues to Divide

According to court documents, the final proposed route keeps freight traffic in the corridor at grade, while the light rail line would travel through a tunnel in the southern half of the corridor and at grade in the northern half.

The lawsuit, first filed by the Lakes and Parks Alliance of Minneapolis in 2014, alleged the Metropolitan Council and the Federal Transit Administration (which was later dropped from the suit) violated state and federal law, including the National Environmental Protection Act.

The court eventually dismissed all claims except that the Met Council "committed itself to a specific light rail route before completing the final environmental review and that the Council's actions concerning that decision amounted to an irreversible and irretrievable predetermination of a particular light-rail route in violation of federal law."

RELATED: Digging for History at Planned Southwest Light Rail Transit Station

But in its ruling Tuesday, the court found "the factual development in this case demonstrates that the Council did not irreversibly commit itself to a single alternative. Changes were made, and municipal consent was re-obtained. Federal law governs procedures, not results, and the Court finds that proper procedures were followed in the approval of the South Tunnel Plan."


Frank Rajkowski

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