MINNEAPOLIS - The first of three public hearings on the Environmental Impact Study for the Southwest Corridor Light Rail line was held Tuesday afternoon. The third planned light rail line in the Twin Cities is to run from Minneapolis to Eden Prairie. The first hearing was held in the Hennepin County Government Center.

While many residents along the 15-mile line are anxious to have the travel alternative built through their towns, there are issues that some cities and citizens have with parts of the proposals. One of those groups is the "Safety in the Park" group of Saint Louis Park.

"Well, in essence, the freight rail trains that are currently on the corridor today really can stay right there, alongside the light rail, when the light rail gets put in," said Thom Miller, Co-Chair of Safety in the Park, "but instead Hennepin County and the Met Council would rather reroute those heavy, long, frequent freight trains to the tracks right behind me here next to our high school."

Miller's group claims the reroute of the freight trains from the Canadian Pacific lines to an old rail line that was built for light rail earlier in the last century is costly and endangers public safety because of the adjacency of the Saint Louis Park High School. In fact, the rail line bisects the school campus, with the football field on one side of the rails and the school on the other side.

Other groups in Minneapolis want the freight trains rerouted from their neighborhoods, but Hennepin County Commissioner Gail Dorfman, who scheduled the hearings, does not want the groups to be at odds.

"You know this isn't us versus them," said Dorfman. "This is really about what's the best alternative for both communities and all six communities along the line including Edina that has been part of this process."

A second public hearing on the Southwest line is set for Wednesday evening at 6 p.m. at the Saint Louis Park City Hall. The third hearing will be at 6 p.m. on November 29th in Eden Prairie City Hall.

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