Political Leaders Issue Joint Statement On Mndot Lawsuit By Minnehaha Creek
Watershed District & Alleged LRT Delays; Group Hopes Transportation Department
Resolves Issue With New Design Change To Hwy. 55/62 Drainage System
MINNEAPOLIS, MN., --May 24, 2001 – A group of Metropolitan political leaders today released a joint statement about this week’s lawsuit filed by the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District (MCWD) against the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) over the protection of the Camp Coldwater Springs and MnDOT’s allegation that such procedures will delay the metropolitan area ’s Light Rail Transit (LRT) schedule.
The group includes, Mayor Sharon Sayles Belton, Hennepin County Commissioner Peter Mclaughlin, State Representative Wes Skoglund and City Council Member Sandy Colvin Roy (12th Ward) and Metropolitan Council Board Member District Eight Representative Carol Kummer, also the LRT Community Advisory Committee Chair.
According to the group, “The real issue is how soon MnDOT is willing to acknowledge the threat that the highway project represents to Camp Coldwater Springs and get the issue resolved.”
“For the past two years, the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District has been raising concerns about whether the construction of the Highway 55 project will harm the Camp Coldwater Springs. For the past two months, the MCWD has been asking MnDOT to cooperate with a groundwater dye tracer test that would definitively answer the question of whether there is a groundwater flow connection between the Highway 55/62 interchange and the Springs.
The MCWD maintains that there is extensive and credible evidence that the groundwater flow to he Springs could be reduced by 30% by the current design of the 55/62 interchange. That is an unacceptable result. The Minnesota Legislature recently passed legislation to protect the Springs
from any decrease in groundwater flow, which Governor Ventura signed into law on May 15. There is no need for a modern highway project in Minnesota to threaten or compromise treasured water resources.
MnDOT has suggested that taking a few weeks to complete the groundwater testing would delay LRT construction by a year. We reject the assertion that LRT is an issue here. In fact, the MCWD experts have confirmed that LRT construction poses no threat to the Springs. The real issue is how soon MnDOT is willing to acknowledge the threat that the highway project represents to the Camp Coldwater Springs and get the issue esolved.
It is in the best interests of both the Highway 55 construction project and Camp Coldwater Springs to resolve the concerns raised by the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District as soon as possible. It would seem that taking a few weeks to do proper testing would allow everyone concerned with both highway improvements and protecting the Springs to know the truth about the impacts of the current 55/62 interchange design.
Better still, MnDOT's engineers should be working right now on design changes to assure that the highway construction poses no risks to the Springs. Whatever the price of these design changes, the taxpayers are sure to be better off with those changes made now, before the project is built,
than trying to reengineer a more expensive fix later.
There are times in public life when it is important to step back a moment from the heat of a dispute, or the pressures of construction schedules, and reflect on the long term legacies of our work. Surely those who have treasured the Springs for various reasons, the Legislature that passed protective legislation, and the Governor who signed it would all expect us to take every reasonable precaution to protect the Springs that are so central to our common history”
For more information on the lawsuit, see www.minnehahacreek.org.
Please call Martin Keller at 612-729-8585 or online at firstname.lastname@example.org for any other information.