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Southwest Light Rail will be valuable for Park

Project’s benefits outweigh its cost

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Southwest Light Rail will be valuable for Park

Dahlia Krebs

Last month, the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) allowed the Southwest Light Rail Transit Project to begin construction, according to the City of St. Louis Park. While the project will cost about $2 billion, the federal agency said if the construction got a Full Funding Grant Agreement, the FTA would contribute $929 million for the project. A $2 billion project is expensive but the possible benefits from having light rail in Park make it worthwhile.  

This is a lot of money, but it will be put to good use, especially because of the easy transportation it will provide to downtown Minneapolis, as the surrounding areas are expected to grow. According to Fox 9, in 2014 there were 64,300 jobs within a half-mile of the Southwest Light Rail Transit Project (SWLRT) stations and 126,800 jobs in downtown Minneapolis. Those numbers are expected to increase to 80,900 for the former and 145,300 in the latter by 2035. The population around the stations of the SWLRT is expected to grow by 56 percent from 2014 to 2035.

SWLRT will service these people and allow them quick access to downtown and wherever they may work. It will also serve as an incentive to move to areas near the station as they would have access to downtown via the light rail. The light rail will also encourage businesses to set up shop in the same area, encouraging economic activity.

Additionally, SWLRT will allow residents to easily travel throughout the West Metro without having to drive, reducing traffic congestion. According to Minnesota Public Radio, the trains are estimated to carry 34,000 riders per day. These riders will no longer need to use cars or other vehicles that would drive on the streets, thereby reducing the number of cars on the road.

According to the City of Minneapolis, in 2016, Minneapolis emitted 4.1 million tons of greenhouse gasses. 26 percent of those emissions came from on-road transportation. With a new way to get to the city, many of those people who drove their cars will no longer need too. Therefore, if cars in Minneapolis decrease, emissions will too.

The construction itself will provide employment opportunities. According to Metropolitan Council, the SWLRT will create 7,500 construction jobs with an estimated $350 million cost for pay. New jobs almost always have many benefits and stimulate economic growth.

With three stations in Park, at Beltline Boulevard, Wooddale Avenue and Louisiana Avenue, the project will directly impact us and will allow us to take advantage of the accessibility of downtown. While SWLRT will cost over $2 billion to build, this project is needed and should have been built years ago. Its lasting positive impact will be valuable to the Twins Cities Metro Area for years to come.

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