One of the challenges of the SWLRT project is the lack of confidence in the process itself. With a background in neighborhood organizing, and a lifetime spent creating opportunities for people to have a voice in issues that impact their lives. I know that ensuring transparency, accountability and authentic community engagement will be critical to the ongoing success of this project, and to restoring confidence in future projects.
I’ve been on the front lines advocating for SW LRT because I understand its importance as a platform for jobs, growth and the ability for the region to expand economic equity for all residents. I will utilize my expertise in development and as a local government leader to ensure that we maximize the investment potential along the corridor.
Right now (April 21st!) this project continues to find a way to get more muddled, which is frustrating for everyone. For me, there are two “show-stoppers” in this project: 1) Impacts on our waters and Chain of Lakes; and 2) Derailment/safety issues involved in freight re-route. With regards to the 2nd item – the railroads stated earlier this year that the proposals presented to them by the Met Council were unacceptable because of the potential for train derailments based on the anticipated longer trains, together with the grades and curves of the re-route path. And once the railroads reject a re-routing, they have never been overruled – ever in more than 100 years. So that option is off the table. After being studied extensively for the past 5 years (and longer), with the “best” proposals presented by Met Council and rejected by the railroads, it’s time to take that out of consideration. In terms of impacts on our waters, even just a week ago, the Met Council indicated that routes for LRT were possible through Kenilworth (co-located alongside freight rail) in a shallow tunnel without impacting the groundwater. Recent designs that were released describing this route, however, have raised further questions about this, and the Met Council needs to provide a more thorough response about why the discussed plan was changed, and what the implications of these changes are. These “oversights” do not inspire confidence in the process, or the outcomes.
I remain committed to creating SW LRT as a critical component of building a regional transit system, and yet share the frustration with so many residents about the lack of clarity and trust in this process. I am confident that we can find solutions that can accommodate all these uses and that work for our community and the region. Let’s get to work.