Harris: Bottineau Transitway deserves further study to allow a better decision

As the end of my first year as mayor draws near, I am very thankful for and proud of our city residents, council members and our hard-working city staff.

We have addressed or are working on many issues. We have succeeded in reopening the city’s Department of Motor Vehicles, enhanced community outreach through neighborhood meetings and increased housing and commercial redevelopment projects.

But the most challenging issue we face is the proposed Bottineau Transitway. This is a 13-mile light rail route that would connect Brooklyn Park to downtown Minneapolis via Golden Valley along the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad corridor, adjacent to the Mary Hills Nature Area and Theodore Wirth Park.

Even though the Golden Valley City Council voted 3-2 June 19 to oppose this “Locally Preferred Alternative,” I believe we have benefited by revisiting this issue, learning additional technical information and further engaging the public. I share many of the concerns residents have expressed over the months on this proposal. But there are additional concerns and benefits to consider as well:

• Increasing congestion and pollution from the highways that bisect our community

• Address growing transportation challenges for those who have physical and mental disabilities or for those who can only afford mass transit

• Creating additional access to our parks and open spaces

• Providing additional transit options for our city’s major employers and their employees

The only way we can truly understand whether our concerns can be addressed is to approve a resolution that authorizes the Metropolitan Council and Hennepin County to extensively study these concerns and obtain facts and analysis as part of the Preliminary Engineering phase.

If the majority of the council approves this resolution, I will work very hard to ensure that our city has multiple opportunities to engage in shaping the proposed alignment through Golden Valley in a way that benefits our residents and community members. Only then will I feel comfortable agreeing to move forward to the final design stage.

To be clear, this column is solely my opinion and not on behalf of the rest of the city council.

The city council is scheduled to vote Dec. 18 on whether to approve a resolution for the extensive study. If you have not already weighed in on the discussion, please feel free to contact the city council via letter, phone call or by contacting us at goldenvalleymn.gov.

Thank you and happy holidays!

Shep Harris is mayor of Golden Valley.