SW Light Rail & St. Louis Park, MN

I received this email via my neighborhood association today. Not sure how I think about it yet.

From: lapray@comcast.net [mailto:lapray@comcast.net] Sent: Friday, June 11, 2010 8:22 AM To: SLP Neighborhood Associations Subject: Safety in the Park

Hello,

As you may have heard there are big potential changes coming to the heart of St. Louis Park. These changes involve the proposed re-routing of heavy freight rail traffic from the east/west Canadian Pacific tracks along Highway 7 to the North/South MN&S tracks that run past St. Louis Park High School and Methodist Hospital.

A grass-roots multi-neighborhood organization called Safety in the Park has been established to ensure the safety, livability and property values of residents in St. Louis Park. Leaders of Safety in the Park have participated in every study, consultancy, meeting, dialogue and task force on this issue for the last 10 years. We are currently working with Hennepin County, the City of St. Louis Park and the State of Minnesota on solutions. We are well informed and well organized. We are not opposed to light rail.

Safety is our greatest goal. To achieve this goal we are encouraging Hennepin County to reevaluate the freight-rail corridor options when planning for the displacement of freight-rail traffic currently running on the Kenilworth corridor. If the Kenilworth corridor is deemed unworkable, we respectfully demand that the MN&S spur-line route, which runs north/south through St. Louis Park, be upgraded to create a rail corridor on par with the Kenilworth and 29th Street corridors.

If we are unsuccessful in changing the plans of Hennepin County and unsuccessful in getting the mitigation needed, the entire face of St. Louis Park will change. The trains that currently parallel to Highway 7 with two grade level crossings will go through the heart of St. Louis Park on the MN&S spur, mostly on tracks that are within a few feet of resident backyards and within feet of the high school. On this rail line the trains will have 14 grade level crossing (Excelsior Blvd. just west of Hwy 100 and Dakota Ave. near the High School are the most prominent) making travel around St. Louis Park dangerous whether one is in a car, on foot or on a bicycle. Because there are so many crossings so close together, emergency vehicles will be hampered.

Although your neighborhood is not directly affected by these changes, those of us nearest the tracks fear not only for the safety of the community first (especially the High School Students,) but we are also saddened by the thought of reduced livability and property values for all residents of St Louis Park. We need Hennepin County to know that St. Louis Park is not split on this issue. Therefore, we need your help. Please consider joining Safety in the Park. Help us make everyone in SLP safe. If you have questions about the rail issue or about Safety in the Park, please feel free to contact either of us.

Best regards,

Jami LaPray, lapray@comcast.net and Thom Miller, thom@two-rivers.com

Co-Chairs of Safety in the Park. Visit our Facebook page at “Safety in the Park”.