Governor Walz and Lieutenant Governor Flanagan, along with the Metropolitan Council, Hennepin County, and the communities of Eden Prairie, Minnetonka, Hopkins, St. Louis Park, and Minneapolis, are pleased to announce the Green Line Light Rail Extension, also called the Southwest LRT Project, has received its Full Funding Grant Agreement (FFGA) from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA). The FFGA provides nearly $1 billion in federal funds as a match to more than $1 billion of local funding and clears the way for the completion of Minnesota’s largest ever public works project.
The $928.8 million FFGA will cover nearly half of the $2.003 billion Southwest LRT Project and is the realization of a decades-old dream to construct a 21st century transportation system that will unite people and communities.
“From a member of Congress to this state’s Governor, the Southwest LRT has long been an important project to me,” said Governor Tim Walz. “While Southwest LRT is a project in the Twin Cities, there isn’t a county in the state this project won’t impact, from the businesses supplying construction material to creating thousands of jobs. I am pleased the Federal Transit Administration and the Trump Administration has recognized the importance of this project to Minnesotans. I can’t wait for my first ride.”
Construction of the project started in November 2018, and signs of progress can be seen throughout the project’s alignment. From Eden Prairie to Minneapolis, construction crews have been busy building tunnels, bridges, and stations in anticipation for opening day in 2023.
“Today is a joyous day for the people of Minnesota,” said Metropolitan Council Chair Charlie Zelle. “With the FFGA firmly in hand, the questions hanging over Southwest LRT are finally answered. I would like to thank our community partners in Eden Prairie, Minnetonka, Hopkins, St. Louis Park, and Minneapolis for their valued input and unwavering support for the project. Additionally, I would like to extend my deepest thanks to Hennepin County; without their support, Southwest LRT would be a dream unrealized.
“Early on, these communities recognized the importance of Southwest LRT, and without their support this project may not have happened. This is not only a great day for the Metropolitan Council but is an affirmation of the hard work, long nights, and thousands of meetings our neighborhood and business community members endured to see this project to fruition.
“Southwest LRT isn’t just another LRT line, it is a vital link between workers and businesses, people, and housing, and is a backbone of a robust 21st century transportation system.”
Excitement around Southwest LRT in not just confined to transportation advocates. Already the alignment has seen hundreds of millions of dollars of private investments along the line. From affordable housing to commercial centers, Southwest LRT is making an impact on the state’s economy, a trend which will continue far into the future.
“This is a momentous day for Hennepin County and the Twin Cities Metro,” said Jan Callison, Hennepin County Commissioner and Chair of the Hennepin County Regional Railroad Authority. “Securing full funding for Southwest LRT firmly sets the course for completion of the next leg of a modern light rail system that will carry us into the future.
“I’ve seen this project weather times of great uncertainty, as both mayor of Minnetonka and as Hennepin County Commissioner. The steadfast commitment of city and project partners over many years and through many challenges made this moment possible. Cities, agencies and private sector partners have worked together in unprecedented ways to prepare for the opportunities light rail will bring to the Southwest Corridor.
“The value of these collaborative efforts is already evident. Businesses and jobs are growing, and new housing — including affordable housing — and commercial development are booming throughout the corridor. Station areas are already becoming vibrant, walkable destinations, and the groundwork is laid for future growth and development. This project is evidence of the great things we can achieve when leaders and community come together with a shared ambition, clear vision, and the will to see them through.”
Hennepin County Commissioner and Board Chair Marion Greene echoed those sentiments and said, “Enormous gratitude to the thousands of people who lent their time, their voices, and their talents to bring us to this moment. This project was carried forward through a decades-long process by an ever-changing yet consistently persistent cast of staff, leaders, advocates, and neighbors. I hope every person who participated over the years in making this project what it is today shares a deep sense of accomplishment and pride. Your work will greatly benefit our communities, our region, and our state for many years to come.”
“Abraham Lincoln said, ‘Things may come to those who wait, but only the things left by those who hustle.’ There’s been a lot of hustle by a lot of great people to make the Southwest Light Rail Transit Project a reality,” said Jonathan Weinhagen, President and CEO of the Minneapolis Regional Chamber. “We want businesses and employees to thrive in our state. That’s why we need an all-of-the-above approach to transportation. Now more than ever we should be investing in our future and building a transportation system that will position our region and state for growth and success.”
“We are extremely excited about the advancement of the full funding grant agreement. Since the inception of the project, TwinWest has been a very vocal advocate for the project,” said Shannon Full, President of the TwinWest Chamber of Commerce. “SWLRT will provide long-term benefits to the businesses in our region. The light rail will increase our overall economic competitiveness by providing effective transportation for employees allowing for companies to attract and retain top talent as well as serving as a catalyst for economic development with new businesses, expansion of existing businesses, and new jobs.”
The FFGA was fully executed by Met Council officials on Monday, September 14, 2020. Execution of the agreement represents the final step in the process, following a 30-day congressional notification.
Southwest LRT is a 14.5-mile line with 16 stations serving Minneapolis, St. Louis Park, nearby Edina, Hopkins, Minnetonka, and Eden Prairie. In 2014, there were approximately 64,300 jobs within a half mile of the proposed stations and 126,800 jobs in downtown Minneapolis. By 2035, employment is expected to grow to 80,900 within a half mile of the proposed stations and 145,300 in downtown Minneapolis — an 18% increase in employment. The population along the line outside of downtown Minneapolis is expected to grow by 56% from 2014–2035.