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Minnetonka Wants Pair of LRT Improvements Worth Millions

The requests are part of more than $100 million in ‘betterments’ that communities along the line are requesting.

The Southwest Light Rail Transit bridge that will cross Bass Lake Spur tracks and wetlands west of the landfill.
The Southwest Light Rail Transit bridge that will cross Bass Lake Spur tracks and wetlands west of the landfill.

Minnetonka and Hopkins are jointly asking Southwest Light Rail planners to tack on a road extension and trail to the project.

The requests are part of more than $100 million in “betterments” that cities along the line have requested. Those additions are not part of the $1.58 billion to $1.82 billion core cost of the project, but local officials argue that they will increase ridership and improve their communities.

The first request would extend 17th Avenue from the Shady Oak park-and-ride to K-Tel Drive at a cost of $9 million to $10 million. The second would add a pedestrian and bike trail alongside or under the Minnetonka-Hopkins bridge. The cost for that has not yet been determined.

Unlike neighboring communities, Minnetonka is not requesting any additions by itself. Eden Prairie want to extend Main Street north to Technology Drive at a cost of $2.5 million to $3 million. Hopkins is requesting a package of betterments, including a civic plaza at its Downtown Station and trail improvements, worth $32 million to $36.5 million.

The improvements could be paid for with unused contingency funds. At this stage of planning, the Federal Transit Administration requires projects to factor a contingency of 30 percent into their estimates—much larger than the 10 to 15 percent that is typical for city and county project, said Craig Lamothe, Southwest LRT’s deputy project director.


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