(Eden Prairie, Minnesota)

People living in the southwest metro are speaking out against an almost 1.8 billion dollar passenger rail line. The city councils in Minnetonka, Hopkins, and Eden Prairie held hearings to approve the Metropolitan Council’s scaled back plan for the Southwest Light Rail which would extend the green line.

On Tuesday evening Eden Prairie residents showed up at the public hearing to voice their opposition to the plan. In order to trim the overall project budget The Met Council cut one station in Eden Prairie from the final plans, and deferred another.

Council member Ron Case says they can only vote on the proposed changes to the project, not the project itself, but many citizens still took the opportunity to express concerns.

Donna Azarian was one of the many taxpayers who showed up to speak out against this project. An Eden Prairie resident for twenty-two years, she tells Alpha News that one of her many concerns is a conflict of interest, saying that Eden Prairie Mayor Nancy Tyra-Lukens should not be voting on the project, stating, “My other concern is with our mayor here in Eden Prairie – she sits on two met council transit committees, and I think she should recuse herself from the vote.”

Alpha News reached out to Mayor Tyra-Lukens for her opinion on this issue, but she could not be reached for comment.

Two citizens spoke in support of the project, including Adam Auxier who said he only considered moving to Eden Prairie after learning about the light rail line going in.

The majority of residents who spoke on Tuesday night opposed the project, some stating concern about changing the overall character of the city and bringing in crime to the west metro suburb of 60,000. Others objected to the overall cost and questioned the need for it based on low population density.

St. Louis Park and Minneapolis still need to approve the plans and the project needs to secure 138 million dollars in funding from the State Legislature next year.

The Southwest Light Rail is set to begin passenger service in 2020 as an extension of the green line from Minneapolis.

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