Southwest Light Rail milestone: first tracks

Date: Tuesday, August 17, 2021

The first light rail tracks have been placed for the METRO Green Line Extension. This marks another major milestone for the Southwest LRT project and brings the project one step closer to connecting the communities of Eden Prairie, Minnetonka, Hopkins, St. Louis Park, and Minneapolis to new opportunities.

Track work in progress near a light rail station.

The rail was installed in Hopkins, near the future Downtown Hopkins Station, on August 11, 2021.

“These first several feet of LRT track represent something bigger than just a light rail line,” said Metropolitan Council Chair Charlie Zelle. “They represent our communities, our region, and our state coming together and committing to improve the lives of neighbors and ourselves. I am immensely proud of this project and the people who have made it happen.”

“This first set of light rail tracks points towards our shared vision for the future and our commitment to supporting equitable growth,” said Marion Greene, Chair of the Hennepin County Board of Commissioners. “As we confront the climate crisis and work to reduce racial disparities, this project is putting our region quite literally on track for long-term success. It will reduce our reliance on cars, offer accessible multimodal transportation choices, and drive inclusive development and investment that will benefit all residents. Today, we’re closer than ever to realizing the lasting benefits of Southwest Light Rail, and I’m excited by the progress being made.”

Southwest LRT construction is more than 50% complete, with 11 of the 16 stations under construction or nearly complete. Despite being under construction, Southwest LRT has already seen over a billion and half dollars of investment within a half-mile of the line.

“As the former mayor of Hopkins and now Metropolitan Council Member, I feel immense pride that the city I call home was where the first rail of Southwest LRT was laid,” said Molly Cummings. “I know the community of Hopkins shares the same enthusiasm I have for Southwest LRT and the benefits it will bring. From the development already occurring near the Blake Road, Downtown Hopkins, and Shady Oak Road stations, to visitors arriving by LRT and experiencing what Hopkins has to offer, this is an exciting time for me and our community.”

Hopkins Mayor Jason Gadd echoes his predecessor’s sentiments. “I am thrilled for the city of Hopkins. Southwest LRT stands not only to provide a convenient transportation option for our residents, but also to bring new visitors to our hometown,” Gadd said. “Thanks to Southwest LRT, a wider audience will be introduced to Hopkins, an audience that will shop at our businesses on Main Street and take in the fun of Raspberry Festival. I can’t wait.”

Two construction workers on the new SWLRT line.

Hennepin County Commissioner Chris LaTondresse, whose district includes several cities along the route: “If you travel along the line today, you’ll see hundreds of millions of dollars of redevelopment already happening in anticipation of Southwest Light Rail. This is an investment in our future that’s already transforming our community right now. Our communities are already seeing the positive impacts of this project, with new affordable housing, businesses, greenspace and amenities popping up in every city along the line.”

When complete, Southwest LRT will offer riders a one-seat trip from Eden Prairie to downtown Saint Paul and connect with numerous bus lines along the way.

“Our LRT lines serve as a backbone for the entire METRO Transit system,” said Metro Transit General Manager Wes Kooistra. “Our job is to get our customers where they need to go in a timely and efficient manner, and Southwest LRT will be integral to our system moving forward.”

More about the Southwest LRT project

Posted In: Transportation

Upcoming Events