Sierra Club names Southwest LRT one of best transportation projects

A new report from the Sierra Club names the Southwest light rail line one of the nation’s best transportation projects. The report, Smart Choices, Less Traffic: 50 Best and Worst Transportation Projects in the United States, cites the planned line between Minneapolis and Eden Prairie for its connectivity. The line will connect job centers in the southwest metro to downtown Minneapolis and to Hiawatha, Central, and Northstar trains and buses that will converge at the planned Interchange near Target Field.

The report lauds the LRT’s estimated 30,000 rides per day projected by the year 2030.

The Met Council plans to vote Wednesday on whether to grant engineering contracts for the eastern and western halves of the line to Los Angeles-based AECOM and North Carolina-based Kimley-Horn & Associates. The Met Council is still looking for additional state funds for the project, which is currently entering into the preliminary engineering phase.

The Sierra Club’s Joshua Houdek says the importance of the Southwest LRT project “is astronomical. It will bring jobs to the region and help the southwest metro develop and grow in a sustainable manner.”

The group is calling on the legislature to find stable funding for the Southwest light rail project to move forward and to expand the state’s transportation options for the metro region and outstate.

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(image courtesy of MnDOT)

Another metro project, the St. Croix River Crossing Project shown above, also landed on the Sierra Club’s list – but as one of the worst projects. Houdek called the bridge project a poor investment, saying it’s “a highway expansion project that is overpriced and will be underserving a very small amount of people in the stretches of the eastern metro, a $700 million bridge that will be serving 18,000 daily commuters, compared to the I-35W bridge which was around $300 million and serves 180,000 commuters a day. We see it as a poor financial investment as well as a poor investment for the environment.”

The bridge has plenty of prominent backers – I reported on the coalition that successfully pushed for the project this week.

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