MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Years of debate surrounding the Southwest light rail transit project has led to a plan some Minneapolis City Council members call incomplete.

But council members nonetheless voted to approve the latest plans for the railway that will connect suburbs like Eden Prairie, St. Louis Park, and Minnetonka to Minneapolis.

“I am very pleased that the Southwest Light Rail Transit Line is moving forward,” Gov. Mark Dayton said in a press statement. “When complete, it will improve many thousands of lives from Eden Prairie to North Minneapolis. It will create new jobs, reduce highway congestion, and better connect Minnesotans to one another.”

This represents the most significant vote yet to push through plans for the $1.6 billion project, but there were many concerns voiced during Friday’s discussions and it was not a unanimous vote.

Several council members from urban neighborhoods around Minneapolis said the path of the light rail line does not directly serving urban neighborhoods. They said it’s just for people in suburban neighborhoods to get a trip into downtown.

“Even if this is only a high speed rail from suburbs to downtown that piece does help out downtown,” Jacob Frey said.

There are also environmental concerns from one neighborhood in the scenic Kenilworth corridor where people say they have not yet seen a complete study on how changing the infrastructure there would impact water and environment.

“It jeopardizes quality of life and environment in our region,” Lisa Goodman said.

The Southwest line would be completed in 2019 as part of Green Line if all goes as planned.


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