Thom Miller & Jami Lapray | Star Tribune

With a number of key decisions and votes approaching on the Southwest light-rail line and the accompanying question of freight rail, it’s important for all parties to understand the position of Safety in the Park and many St. Louis Park citizens.

We look forward to the introduction of Southwest LRT. We believe it will benefit St. Louis Park in myriad ways — from employment opportunities to transit-oriented development, and more. Instead of denying outright any type of freight rail reroute, we have always espoused a clear position: If no other viable option exists, a St. Louis Park freight rail reroute is acceptable only if our community remains as safe as it is today.

Fifteen years of consultant studies, community meetings, environmental-impact statements, and countless hours of work by elected officials and staff members have come to two definite conclusions. First, several viable options exist for keeping the freight traffic right where it is today. Second, the only safe way to reroute Bass Lake Spur freight traffic to the MN&S track would mean taking multiple homes, businesses and schools; building ramps, bridges and berms; and rebuilding streets and highways. This would take an enormous toll on St. Louis Park and we cannot abide it when other viable options exist. It is clear that the St. Louis Park City Council, the St. Louis Park school board and all of our state legislators agree on this point.

Other facts have come to light during the last several years via diligent research. We now know that St. Louis Park never agreed to a reroute; that Minneapolis agreed that the Kenilworth bike trail would be temporary; that the Minnesota Department of Transportation always considered the Twin Cities and Western Railroad’s use of Kenilworth permanent; that no entity can force a railroad to take an inferior route, and that federal authorities not only never asked for freight and light rail to be considered separately but connected the two officially. {….}

Photo: David Joles • Star Tribune file