Column: All on board for the Southwest LRT plan

It is time for Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges and the Minneapolis City Council to climb on board the decision to approve the Southwest light rail transit plan in the interests of future transit riders and continued good relationships between the central cities and suburban governments.

Don Heinzman

Don Heinzman

For years, this relationship has been growing to the extent that mayors, council members of Minneapolis and St. Paul and suburban communities have been meeting regularly.

These meetings, promoted by the Regional Council of Mayors, including mayors from Minneapolis and St. Paul, and the Urban Land Institute, are designed to develop and promote this economic region.

Most suburban community leaders no longer question the way the region is developing and the need to have strong cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul.

They support the planning of the Metropolitan Council, realizing that having a metropolitan sewage disposal and transit systems are essential to orderly development.

The city of Bloomington, in particular, gave in to the loss of the Minnesota Twins, Vikings and at the time North Stars when it once was the sports capital of the state.

Minneapolis made every effort to lift major league sports from the state’s fourth largest city to bolster its development, with the building of the Metrodome. Now Minneapolis is home to the Vikings and the Timberwolves and St. Paul has the Minnesota Wild.

Bloomington wound up with the world-famous Mall of America, an interesting development.

There was a time when planners sought to have a new airport complex in the Ham Lake area, but it was squashed in favor of squeezing an expansion into the present location.

The latest cave-in to Minneapolis development came when the Minnesota Vikings were all set to build the new football stadium in Arden Hills, only to see the central-city political powers rise up against it.

Now, Minneapolis leaders have an opportunity to show suburban leaders that this metropolitan development goes both ways by approving the plan for two shallow tunnels.

Minneapolis leaders appear to believe their city will suffer if they approve a light rail plan that will bring as many workers into their city as will go out to the suburbs on the rail route.

This plan will strengthen Minneapolis as a transit hub connecting the Southwest rail with the Hiawatha light rail and the new light rail to St. Paul.

Communities along the rail will suffer some disruption as the rail is built, and they are doing so without complaining.

Failure of the mayor and council to approve this Southwest rail line will disrupt the harmony existing with suburban governments, particularly those along the rail line.

All aboard, Minneapolis. The light rail decision is leaving the station.

Don Heinzman is a columnist for ECM Publishers.

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