Thursday, September 06, 2012

Twin Cities symbolic link ties two LRT lines

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Twin Cities symbolic link ties two LRT lines Metropolitan Council

Work crews Wednesday joined the Central Corridor light rail transit track, under construction mostly in St. Paul, Minn., to existing Hiawatha LRT track when they welded the two lines together between the Metrodome and Cedar Riverside LRT stations in Minneapolis.

The announcement by the Metropolitan Council emphasizes the expected synergies of operation LRT supporters in the Twin Cities expect when the Central Corridor opens for revenue operation. 

“This connection will create a 63-mile passenger rail network for the Twin Cities, 11 miles for Central, 12 miles for Hiawatha and 40 miles for Northstar. The network will increase to 78 miles when the 15-mile Southwest LRT line begins service in 2018, four years after Central Corridor,” said Mark Fuhrmann, the local program director for New Starts rail projects, which includes proposals for other LRT lines in the Twin Cities.

Central Corridor LRT trains from St. Paul will operate for a mile in downtown Minneapolis from a point near the Metrodome, serving five stations over existing Hiawatha tracks to Target Field Station. Passengers will be able to board at Union Depot in downtown St. Paul and travel to the University of Minnesota and downtown Minneapolis or transfer at Metrodome Station to the Hiawatha Line to reach the Mall of America or the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.

Track installation and rail welding will continue throughout the remainder of the year on the Central Corridor. The $957 million, 11-mile line, with 18 new stations (not including five shared with the Hiawatha Line), is scheduled to open for revenue service in 2014, with ridership expected to surpass 40,000 per day by 2030.