Wall between freight, Southwest light-rail lines would affect historic district, feds say
Southwest LRT officials led a tour in September of the area where a 10-foot wall is proposed. Here, Brian Runzel, SWLRT construction director, walked under the I-394 Bridge near the Bryn Mawr Station Area in Minneapolis.
The 1.4-mile wall, which will be 10-feet high in some places, was added to the project at the behest of BNSF Railway, which owns the right of way between the Royalston Avenue/Farmers Market and Bryn Mawr LRT stations.
The $20 million wall would be located within the St. Paul, Minneapolis & Manitoba Railroad/Great Northern Railway Historic District. Because the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) determined the historic district is eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places, a review of the proposed changes was required.
The FTA found the wall would “adversely affect” the historic district because building it would involve widening “the historic cut, removal of several historic retaining walls, replacement of historic stone and concrete walls and earthen embankment, changing its character.”
The wall will also serve as a “physical and visual barrier” between freight track and the historic rail yards, the review stated.
Now the Met Council, which is building and operating the $1.9 billion Southwest line, will work with MnDOT to prepare a “mitigation plan” to minimize the concrete wall’s effects on the historic property.
The Minnesota Historic Preservation Office, the city of Minneapolis and its park board, and Hennepin County are expected to contribute to the plan and offer suggestions on its design.
The 14½-mile Southwest light-rail line would connect downtown Minneapolis with Eden Prairie, with passenger service beginning in 2022.