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Met councilwoman says light rail won't pose a threat of train explosions

Councilwoman Jennifer Munt says the railroad industry is exaggerating the possibility that sparks from light rail lines threaten flammable cargo passing nearby.

Councilwoman Jennifer Munt says the railroad industry is exaggerating the possibility that sparks from light rail lines threaten flammable cargo passing nearby. Star Tribune

Met Councilwoman Jennifer Munt responds to Minnesota Rep. Paul Torkelson offers a huge welfare giveaway to railroad industry:

Cory Zurowski's article misrepresented the facts about Southwest LRT and lacked context about other LRT systems operating near freight.

The Council continues to discuss the appropriate mix of liability and insurance with the freight railroads in the event of an incident involving freight rail and LRT.

The Council is committed to safe light rail operations in the proposed shared LRT-freight corridor that will stretch 7.65 miles from Fifth Avenue South in Hopkins to an LRT bridge over BNSF near downtown Minneapolis, which is west of Target Field.

When Southwest LRT tracks are not enclosed in a tunnel, they will be built 25 to 50 feet from freight traffic. This is in line with LRT systems that parallel freight corridors in Charlotte, Denver, Portland, Sacramento and St. Louis.

The 10-foot spacing as the article reported is not true wherever freight and LRT are both at ground level. Freight and LRT are within 10 feet only where freight is at ground level and LRT is in a tunnel.

The trail will be restored and built atop the LRT tunnel in the Kenilworth Corridor, with freight traffic paralleling it as it does today.

The project’s design will include safeguards to minimize the possibility of sparking in the overhead wires that carry electricity to power the trains. Metro Transit will regularly inspect equipment for wear that could cause arcing. The design accounts for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s 10-foot zone of influence and meets or exceeds National Electrical Safety Code requirements along the proposed shared corridor.

This information is in the Record of Decision, the federal government’s signoff on the project’s environmental review and is posted on the project’s website.