MINNEAPOLIS – Sept. 5, 2012 – Crews joined the Central Corridor light rail track to existing Hiawatha light rail track today when they welded the two lines together between the Metrodome and Cedar Riverside LRT stations.
“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 Central and Southwest.
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. Once Southwest is built, riders from Eden Prairie will be able to ride the future 26-mile Green Line through downtown Minneapolis to the University of Minnesota, state Capitol area and downtown St. Paul without changing trains. They also will be able to transfer to the Hiawatha or Northstar lines at the Interchange being built at Target Field Station.
While track installation and rail welding will continue throughout the remainder of the year on the Central Corridor, today’s weld is a significant milestone.
“This weld is our own version of the golden spike for the transcontinental railroad as it connects the Twin Cities of St. Paul and Minneapolis,” Fuhrmann said. “By connecting Central Corridor Green Line with the Hiawatha Blue Line, we will expand environmentally friendly, affordable transit options for residents of St. Paul, Minneapolis and the region.”
The weld is the latest in a string of project milestones. They include:
Six LRT stations are structurally complete. In late August, the Fairview Avenue and Snelling Avenue stations were structurally completed, joining the Westgate, Raymond Avenue, Robert Street and Union Depot stations.
The first traction power substation, one of 14 that will help to power the light rail vehicles, was installed last week.
The Huron Boulevard-University Avenue intersection in Stadium Village reopened this week to traffic, and the south sidewalks on Washington Avenue between Huron and Church Street reopened for the start of fall semester at the University of Minnesota.
By the end of July, the project was 68 percent complete and well on its way to achieving the 75 percent completion milestone by the end of the year.
About the project
The Central Corridor Light Rail Transit Project will link downtown St. Paul and downtown Minneapolis along Washington and University avenues via the state Capitol and the University of Minnesota. Construction began in late 2010 on the planned 11-mile Central Corridor line, and service will begin in 2014. The line will connect with the Hiawatha LRT line at the Metrodome station in Minneapolis and the Northstar commuter rail line at Target Field Station. The Metropolitan Council is the grantee of federal funds. The regional government agency is charged with building the line in partnership with the Minnesota Department of Transportation. The Central Corridor Management Committee, which includes commissioners from Ramsey and Hennepin counties, the mayors of St. Paul and Minneapolis and the University of Minnesota, provides advice and oversight. Funding is provided by the Federal Transit Administration, Counties Transit Improvement Board, state of Minnesota, Ramsey and Hennepin counties’ regional railroad authorities, city of St. Paul, Metropolitan Council and the Central Corridor Funders Collaborative.
Central Corridor LRT Project