"This is on a collision course with the opposition that exists now, and the emotions as high as they are, [we] need to step back and everybody take a deep breath,” Dayton told the Star Tribune.
The Met Council was scheduled to vote Wednesday on the $160 million light-rail project.
The plan, approved by Met Council staff and by the council's influential Corridor Management Committee, would build two shallow tunnels through the Kenilworth neighborhood of Minneapolis.
But the plan is wildly unpopular in Minneapolis, with some residents threatening a lawsuit and the city considering withholding municipal consent—a possible deal-breaker for the light-rail line.
Minneapolis mayor R.T. Rybak said he was pleased with the delay and that Met Council staff would look further into the effects of placing light-rail in the Kenilworth corridor and would re-consider options for relocating freight rail.
"At the end of the day, if we can say we don't have any other options and this won't harm the lakes, then I'll help make this happen," Rybak told Minnesota Public Radio. "We can't answer those questions now."Safety in the Park, the St. Louis Park neighborhood group dedicated to opposing freight rail relocation, was dismayed by the news and canceled a celebration planned for Wednesday evening.
"We need to persevere and remember that the facts are on our side: that re-routing is still dangerous, expensive, and takes people's homes and businesses," the group wrote in an email. "While all of those things logically seem to outweigh Kenwood's opposition to seeing light rail trains, that part of Minneapolis is extremely influential."
Others cautioned that the delay could harm the chances of success for the light-rail project, even if resolution is eventually found between the Met Council and Minneapolis.
A joint statement from the Minneapolis and St. Paul chambers of commerce expressed support for the shallow tunnel option: "This delay imperils that federal support and could mean tens of millions of dollars in increased costs and a longer wait for the 10 million annual riders and 60,000 private sector jobs that will be served by the line."
Met Council chair Susan Haigh, who met with Dayton on Tuesday, said in a statement that she would ask the Met Council for a delay on Wednesday.
"The Southwest LRT Project is one of the most important jobs and transit projects we have in the region," she said. "I believe that resolving these questions now is in the best interests of the project and the community, and will save us time in the long run.”