Thursday, May 27, 2010

Another Twin Cities LRT line advances

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The Metropolitan Council, the regional transit planning agency for Minnesota’s Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, Wednesday approved a 14-mile Southwest Corridor light rail line linking Minneapolis to Eden Prairie, Minn.

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The locally preferred alternative (LPA) was recommended to the council by the Hennepin County Regional Rail Authority and the communities that the corridor will serve. The route also will serve Minnetonka, Hopkins, and St. Louis Park. The route is projected to cost as much as $1.25 billion.

Met Council amended the region's 2030 Transportation Policy Plan (TPP) to include LRT as the mode of choice for the route, making the project eligible for federal funding.

“World class cities have growing, vibrant transit systems,” said Council Chair Peter Bell. “The selection of the mode and alignment for this corridor is an important step forward. It moves the project to the next level and continues the process of building out the region's rail corridor network.”

The LRT route will link with the existing Hiawatha LRT line at Target Field Station in Minneapolis, offering connections to Northstar commuter rail services at that station and access to the Central Corridor LRT route serving St. Paul, now beginning construction.

Met Council will submit a New Starts applicationto the Federal Transit Administration this summer, asking for permission to begin preliminary engineering on the project.  The route is expected to generate 28,000 rider trips per day by 2030, which Met Council says is comparable to current ridership on Hiawatha  LRT.