Sample Letters

Topic ideas for letters to elected officials:

Environmental Impact:
LRT Done Right has given the SWLRT project an “F” for its environmental impact. Check out theEnvironmental Report card.

• 1,000 trees will be cut down with shallow tunnel on Kenilworth Greenway

• 600 trees cut down if only light rail is constructed on Kenilworth Greenway

• During earlier phases of the planning process, suburban communities refused to use Hennepin County Railroad Authority (HCRRA)-owned right-of-way for SWLRT. They wanted to preserve their recreational green space, as well as have an alignment with greater transit oriented development opportunities. The Policy Advisory Committee agreed, and a new alignment was created for Eden Prairie at an estimated additional cost of about $300 million.

• Questions still remain concerning the potential dewatering of Cedar Lake and Lake of the Isles due to shallow tunnel construction

• According to the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS), vehicle traffic and air toxins will actually increase at many intersections and at all SWLRT stations, especially those with park and ride facilities. Elsewhere, clear-cutting of up to 1,000 trees on the Kenilworth Greenway and a 2,000-foot bridge over a wetland will be required, meanwhile, emission-free bicycling commuter trails will be removed or degraded. Because increased traffic delays would cause greater emissions, and environmental benefits of the project will result in no net gain.  (DEIS p. 4-69 and 4-75).

Cost:
• Cost of relocating freight was never factored into the original budget of $1.25 billion.

• The current alignment through the Kenilworth corridor will cost the project an additional $1-200 million, no matter which freight option is chosen (relocation costs only $40 million less than co-location–both options drastically increase the cost of the project.

• The city will lose tax revenue do to the decrease in property values adjacent to the project.

Trail Usage:
• In 2013, 3,000 bicycle riders use the Kenilworth Trail daily, already 30% of the 2030 projected 9,800 new transit users.

Impacts to the Kenilworth Trail
• Proposed crash walls will be 6ft high x 2 ½ feet x unspecified length, where freight and LRT run parallel

• Over 20 years of citizen’s efforts to build and maintain Cedar Lake Park and the Kenilworth Trail have resulted in a more beautiful and complete Grand Rounds and Chain of Lakes. Traffic on federally funded commuter and recreational bicycle trails in the Kenilworth Corridor grew to at least 620,000, perhaps approaching one million, visits in 2012.

• This is not a NIMBY issue. The Kenilworth Trail provides safe, healthy recreational and commuter options for the city and region. It is functionally part of our park system. The Kenilworth Corridor is priceless green space that cannot be replaced.

• The southwesttransitway.org has stated since its inception that:
“Hennepin County and its partners are committed to ensuring that a connected system of trails is retained throughout the southwest metro area. Currently, there are four trails that may be affected by a Southwest LRT line. They are the Southwest LRT trail, the Kenilworth trail, the Cedar Lake Park trail, and the Midtown Greenway. These trails are all located on property owned by the HCRRA. The existing walking and biking trails will be maintained; there is plenty of space for light rail and the existing trails. Currently, rails and trails safely coexist in more than 60 areas of the United States.”

“Bait and switch“ promises made to Minneapolis residents:
• City of Minneapolis DEIS response “City of Minneapolis support for the Locally Preferred Alternative is based on the premise that freight rail will be relocated from the Kenilworth Corridor. The City of Minneapolis will not accept the co-location alternative in which freight, LRT, and trails are placed in the same corridor. While the Federal Transit Administration has directed that the Metropolitan Council examine this option, it will not be accepted by the City of Minneapolis as part of the municipal consent process. The co-location option will displace dozens of households, will create irreversible damage to the character of the neighborhood, and will destroy high quality parkland that cannot be mitigated.”

• The 29th Street and Southwest Corridor Vintage Trolley Study (2000) noted that, “To implement transit service in the Southwest Corridor, either a rail swap with Canadian Pacific Rail or a southern interconnect must occur.”

• The FTA-compliant Alternatives Analysis (2005-2007) defines the Kenilworth section of route 3A for the proposed Southwest Light Rail in this way: “Just north of West Lake Street the route enters an exclusive (LRT) guideway in the HCRRA’s Kenilworth Corridor to Penn Avenue” (page 25). This study goes on to say that “to construct and operate an exclusive transit-only guideway in the HCRRA’s Kenilworth Corridor the existing freight rail service must be relocated” (page 26).

• The “Locally Preferred Alternative” (LPA) recommended by HCRRA (10/29/2009) to participating municipalities and the Metropolitan Council included a recommendation that freight rail relocation be considered as a separate “parallel process.”

• In adopting HCRRA’s recommended Locally Preferred Alternative based on treating relocation of the freight rail as a separate process, the City of Minneapolis’ Resolution (January, 2010) stated:

• “Be It Further Resolved that the current environmental quality, natural conditions, wildlife, urban forest, and the walking and biking paths be preserved and protected during construction and operation of the proposed Southwest LRT line.

• Be It Further Resolved that any negative impacts to the parks and park-like surrounding areas resulting from the Southwest LRT line are minimized and that access to Cedar Lake Park, Cedar Lake Regional Trail, Kenilworth Trail and the Midtown Greenway is retained.”

Job Creation & Minneapolis ridership:
• The DEIS projects the reverse commute ridership on SWLRT to be 25% or 7,150 urban riders traveling daily to the southwestern suburbs. Of these, only 3,450 are projected to board at the Penn, Van White, Royalston, and Intermodal stations, closest to (but still not actually in) neighborhoods with high unemployment. Assuming ALL those riders would “reverse commute” and not go downtown (or to the University, St. Paul or switch to the Hiawatha Line to go to the airport or the MOA) we could most certainly develop a Southwest Transit bus service to Eden Prairie, similar to the service that 99.9% of Eden Prairie riders surveyed say “they are satisfied or very satisfied with the overall service provided by SouthWest Transit.” This is a much more cost-effective method of transportation for potential riders.

• LRT does not create new jobs, but it helps determine where they will be located and serves as a development tool. The alignment in the city through the Kenilworth Greenway offers no transit-oriented development, limiting Minneapolis’ benefits, but costing us the quality of a highly used Greenway.

 

Below are several sample letters that you are free to copy and past, or use as starting points for your own letters. If you have a letter that you would like to share for this page–let us know by leaving a comment.

Letters to Met Council

Letters to Edina Mayor

Examples letters

Sample Letter/Email #1: (New Alignment)

Subject:  It is time to rethink the SWLRT Alignment

Dear Met Councilmember [___________],

In a few weeks, you will have the responsibility to cast your vote on the SWLRT – and that vote will have an impact on future generations.

I support mass transit when it achieves the goals of efficiency, financial soundness, and environmental protection, so I was excited to hear about the line being expanded to the SW side of the Twin Cities.

After learning more about the proposed alignment through the Minneapolis Kenilworth Greenway, though, it’s hard to get behind this project.

The Kenilworth alignment was originally chosen in part because the expected cost was lower than other options that were on the table at the time. Relocation of freight rail was assumed without any funding source. Now, the reality of the freight relocation (and associated costs) coupled with citizens concerns

about the loss or degradation of an important bicycle commuter means that this alignment is no longer the cost effective line once thought.

In addition, living patterns have changed dramatically over the past 10 to 12 years. The Kenilworth Greenway has few potential LRT riders living nearby, and will end up being a train through the woods.

Commercial corridors nearby that would serve many more people and create much better opportunities for economic development.

With the new information about population and costs, we need to take a step back and ask if a $1.4 billion decision made years ago is still the best decision. It takes courage to do so, and I ask you to have the courage to vote to spend wisely – this decision will affect us for generations to come.

Sincerely,

NAME
ADDRESS
E-MAIL

 

Sample Letter/Email #2: (No-Colocation or Shallow Tunnel)

Subject: Co-location or  a Shallow Tunnel are not options for the SWLRT

Dear Met Councilmember [___________],

In a few weeks, you will have the responsibility to cast your vote on the SWLRT project to address freight issues– and that vote will have an impact on future generations. There are several options currently proposed for the TC & W rail line. For the reasons listed below, I believe that it would be irresponsible to support either co-location of freight rail or the shallow tunnel option:

1. Construction will close the bike and pedestrian trails for the length of the corridor for 2 years, diverting trail users to dangerous city streets

2. Excavation will close Cedar Lake Parkway, backing up vehicle and pedestrian traffic onto Dean Parkway and W. Lake of the Isles Parkway to the east and Sunset Boulevard to the west

3. Returning to grade to cross the Cedar Lake-Lake of the Isles boat channel will result in 3 bridges over the channel, violating the serenity for users. It will also be counter to the channel designation for the National Historic Register and the environmental requirements of Section 4F

4. During construction, excavation will result in visibility, noise, vibration, and exhaust fume issues for the adjacent residential properties and Park Siding Park 5. After completion, the tunnel will still result in vibration issues for the adjacent residential properties and Park Siding Park

6. During construction, access of emergency fire, medical and police vehicles to the Burnham Boulevard/Park Lane neighborhoods will be restricted and require longer response times

7. The failure of the proposed safety wall between the freight rail line and the LRT tunnel excavation could cause collapse of the 14 story Calhoun Isles condominium tower or a freight train pulling 80 tank cars carrying ethanol or other flammable liquids

8. These issues may cause the SWLRT Project Office to revert to previous plans to take up to 57 residences north of Lake St. and another 20 south of Lake St.

9. The shallow tunnel will still require accommodation of two tracks of light rail, a freight rail track, a trolley connection to Uptown and the Midtown Greenway trails at the W. Lake St. station

10. The shallow LRT tunnel will be subject to periodic flooding during storm incidents if not properly sealed, resulting in interruption of service and a safety hazard to LRT passengers.

Sincerely,

NAME
ADDRESS
E-MAIL

 

Sample Letter/Email #3: (Frequent user, environment & reexamine alignment)

Subject: Kenilworth Greenway is a Irreplaceable Regional Resource

Dear Metropolitan Councilmember [___________],

As a frequent user of the Kenilworth Greenway and the other trails it connects with, I am dismayed by what I have learned about the Met Council’s proposed LRT-freight rail plans. The potential of losing scarce urban green space that cannot be reclaimed for future generations is distressing to say the least. I do not believe the current SWLRT alignment serves our region’s interests.  It threatens our urban lakes, diminishes the livability of communities, has escalating costs before even breaking ground, and poses safety hazards in the narrow Kenilworth Greenway right of way.

Please consider other alignments that better serve our region and reject any recommendation that includes co-location including at grade or in a shallow tunnel as these options are surrounded by significant unanswered environmental concerns as it relates to the impact on Lake of the Isles and the Minneapolis Chain of Lakes.

Our legacy as regional stewards and citizens should be to maintain our urban green space and waterways for future generations.

Thank you for helping us preserve Kenilworth Greenway, an irreplaceable regional resource.

Sincerely,

NAME
ADDRESS
EMAIL

 

Sample Letter/Email #4: (Population and cost changes, re-examine alignment)

Subject:  It is time to rethink the SWLRT Alignment

Dear Metropolitan Councilmember [___________],

In a few weeks, you will have the responsibility of casting your vote on the SWLRT – and that vote will have an impact on future generations.

I support mass transit when it achieves the goals of efficiency, financial soundness, and environmental protection, so I was excited to hear about the line being expanded to the southwest side of the Twin Cities. After learning more about the proposed alignment through the Minneapolis Kenilworth Greenway, though, it’s hard to get behind this project.

The Kenilworth alignment was originally chosen in part because the expected cost was lower than other options that were on the table at the time. Relocation of freight rail was assumed without any funding source. Now, the reality of the freight relocation (and associated costs) coupled with citizens concerns about the loss or degradation of an important bicycle commuter means that this alignment is no longer the cost effective line once thought.

In addition, living patterns have changed dramatically over the past 10 years. The Kenilworth Greenway has few potential LRT riders living nearby, and will end up being a train through the woods. Commercial corridors nearby would serve many more people and create much better opportunities for economic development.

With the new information about population and costs, we need to take a step back and ask if a $1.4 billion decision made years ago is still the best decision. It takes courage to do so, and I ask you to have the courage to re-examine the SWLRT alignment – this decision will affect us for generations to come.

Sincerely,

NAME
ADDRESS
EMAIL

 

Sample Letter/Email #5: Bicycle Commuter

Subject:  Preserve the Kenilworth Bike Trails

Dear _______________________________,

I oppose colocation of freight rail and LRT in the Kenilworth Greenway. I am a regular commuter on the the Kenilworth Greenway and the proposed colocation of LRT and freight rail will forever damage an important commuter trail for thousands of bike commuters from Minneapolis and surrounding suburbs.

According to the City of Minneapolis website,

“Minneapolis has been ranked as the best biking city in the country by Bicycling Magazine; has been ranked as one of the best biking city in the country by Bike Score, and the #4 bicycling city in the nation by the US Census Bureau. The city has also been awarded with the League of American Bicyclists’ Bicycle Friendly Community Award. “

When Bicycling writer Steve Friedman asked why Minneapolis is consistently rated nationally as one of the best biking cities in the nation, he stated, “legislative support and a responsive government and friendly landscape and a cheerful community of cyclists” are what make Minneapolis unique.  Under your leadership, please do not allow the destruction of our amazing commuter trails by agreeing to the colocation of LRT and freight rail in the Kenilworth Greenway.

Sincerely,

NAME
ADDRESS
EMAIL

Sample Letters to Edina Mayor

Edina Mayor Jim Hovland has been very vocal in support of co-location of freight rail at grade. He represents Edina on the Corridor Management Committee and he needs to hear from Kenilworth Trail supporters.

Letter #1 – non-Edina resident

Mayor Jim Hovland
City of Edina
edinamail@ci.edina.mn.us

Dear Mayor Jim Hovland:

I am writing to ask that you support the City of Minneapolis in its efforts to not co-locate (including shallow tunnel) freight rail and LRT on the Kenilworth Greenway. The Kenilworth Greenway is a regional asset used by Edina residents to commute to work, attend Minneapolis events and everyday enjoyment of the Twin Cities’ regional trail system.

I respect the Edina Parks & Recreation Department’s mission “to do our part in further developing, preserving, and maintaining the City of Edina’s parks, recreation programs and resources as a premier and comprehensive parks and recreation department in the Twin Cities area.” Please respect Mayor Rybak and the Minneapolis City Council to determine what is best for Minneapolis, the Kenilworth Greenway and the nearly one million Kenilworth Greenway users.

Sincerely,

NAME
ADDRESS
EMAIL

Letter #2 – Edina Family

Mayor Jim Hovland
City of Edina
edinamail@ci.edina.mn.us

Dear Mayor Jim Hovland:

As an Edina resident, I am writing to ask that you support the City of Minneapolis in its efforts to not co-locate (including shallow tunnel) freight rail and LRT on the Kenilworth Greenway. My family uses the Kenilworth Greenway for bike rides and accessing Minneapolis events. The Kenilworth Trail is a regional resource that should be protected for future generations of Twin City residents.

Sincerely,

NAME
ADDRESS
EMAIL

Letter #3– Edina Resident

Mayor Jim Hovland
City of Edina
edinamail@ci.edina.mn.us

Dear Mayor Jim Hovland:

As an Edina resident, I am writing to ask that you protect the Kenilworth Greenway from co-location of freight rail and LRT. The Kenilworth Greenway is a regional trail used by nearly one million users, including Edina commuters and families.

I understand that the SWLRT project is important for the city of Edina and surrounding areas but please don’t allow it to be built at the expense of a regional treasure that once gone is lost forever. Please consider a re-examination of the alignment that allows Edina residents the opportunities of LRT but not the destruction of regional resources.

Sincerely,

NAME
ADDRESS
EMAIL