Met Council approves $1.7B Southwest Light Rail plan, cutting Eden Prairie stops

The Metropolitan Council on Wednesday approved a reduced, $1.7 billion budget for the Southwest Light Trail. The vote comes after a key management committee agreed last week to slash the budget from $2 billion to $1.7 billion.

Eden Prairie took biggest hit, with a station near Eden Prairie City Hall and the Eden Prairie Center mall cut from the proposed line. The reduced budget also cuts art installations, landscaping and parking from the route.

The 16-mile SWLRT line will connect downtown Minneapolis to Eden Prairie, and it's expected to start and finish at the Southwest station in Eden Prairie, which serves as a major center for bus service in Eden Prairie as well as southwest suburbs including Chaska and Chanhassen.

"All the cities along the line embraced the notion that we had to tighten our belts and figure out a way to keep the project going,” Hennepin County Commissioner Peter McLaughlin said. “No one wanted the project to die. Nobody."

Minneapolis agreed to slash a $12 million bridge for cyclists and runners on the Cedar Lake bike trail.

Hennepin County and other communities along the line including Minnetonka, Saint Louis Park, and Hopkins have agreed to pitch in some extra funding and land donations to make the numbers work.

The line is currently slated to begin operations in 2020.