ST. PAUL, Minn. – Dec. 9, 2015 – The Metropolitan Council today approved an updated project scope and $1.496 billion cost estimate for the planned METRO Blue Line Extension LRT Project. The project, which now includes 11 stations, was recommended for approval at November’s Corridor Management Committee (CMC) meeting.
The vote at Wednesday’s Council meeting means staff will now submit municipal consent plans for the 13-mile line for local review and approval. Elected officials in Hennepin County and the corridor cities of Minneapolis, Golden Valley, Robbinsdale, Crystal and Brooklyn Park will have until early March 2016 to consider and approve the line.
The Blue Line Extension Project – often called the Bottineau LRT – will expand the existing Blue Line from Target Field in downtown Minneapolis into the northwest suburbs. When completed, the line will offer a one-seat ride from the Target Northern Campus in Brooklyn Park to the Mall of American in Bloomington, with stops throughout Minneapolis and at the MSP International Airport.
“The Blue Line Extension will connect thousands of residents throughout our region with jobs,” said Metropolitan Council Chair Adam Duininck. “Not only will residents in the northwest metropolitan area have access to employers in downtown Minneapolis and throughout the transit system, the line provides the opportunity for reverse commuting as well, for those workers heading into the suburbs for work.
“We’ve seen great momentum for this project, which builds on our transit investments in the region. I look forward to continued support from our project partners and communities as we work to make our transit system one of the best in the nation.”
Read more about the project’s updated scope and funding plans here.
Municipal Consent Process and Next Steps
A Minnesota state law (473.3994) requires municipal consent, which means local approval of an LRT system’s physical design components including tracks, bridges, stations, roads and support structures. The municipal consent process allows for public input on the preliminary design plans. Input can come at the public hearings that each city and Hennepin County will hold, by email, online submissions or written comments. For each city, public comments should focus on the physical design of the LRT alignment within the municipality.
On January 19, 2016, the Metropolitan Council, Hennepin County Board of Commissioners and Hennepin County Regional Railroad Authority will hold a public open house beginning at 5:00 p.m., with a joint public hearing to follow at 6:00 p.m. Those meetings will be at the Hennepin County’s Minneapolis Central Library.
By early March 2016, the five corridor cities’ councils, Hennepin County board and railroad authority would need to act on plans for their jurisdictions. Each city and the county will announce the dates, times and locations of their municipal consent meetings on their websites.
The public can view the plans beginning next week in the Blue Line Extension Project Office on the second floor of the Crystal Gallery Shopping Center at 5514 West Broadway Ave., Suite 200 in Crystal, as well as libraries on the corridor and on the project’s website. The site will also include: more information about the municipal consent process, public hearings, a guide to reading the plans and outreach staff contact information who can also assist in understanding the documents, which are engineering blueprints.
In August 2016, staff will finalize the 30 percent design plans and specifications and apply with the Federal Transit Administration to enter the Engineering phase of the project. Heavy construction is set to occur in 2018-2020, with passenger service beginning in 2021.
METRO Blue Line Extension Route Map [PDF]