MINNEAPOLIS – Oct. 10, 2012 – Flashing the “Green Line” moniker, the first light rail vehicle (LRV) built for the Central Corridor LRT line arrived today at Target Field Station, its bell ringing with abandon.
Pre-recorded steam engine whistles and chug-a-chug-a sounds broadcast over the station’s speakers and public officials greeted No. 201 as the sleek and exhaust-free electrically operated LRV glided quietly to a stop next to a recently repainted Hiawatha LRV waiting at the station. Both sported the new METRO logo identifying them as part of the color-coded system of light rail and bus rapid transit (BRT) lines. The scene was a far cry from the steam engine era that ended over half a century ago.
Metropolitan Council Chair Susan Haigh, U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum, Ramsey County Commissioner Jim McDonough, Hennepin County Commissioner Peter McLaughlin, St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman, Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak and Metro Transit General Manager Brian Lamb then made brief remarks about what the Central Corridor line and the forthcoming METRO transitway network mean.
When the Central Corridor LRT project begins service in 2014, it will operate as the “Green Line.”
“The arrival of this American-made light rail vehicle is a very visible symbol of the progress we’re making toward finishing the line, which was 74 percent complete by the end of August. We are well on our way to achieving the 75 percent completion milestone this fall, thanks to the skill and dedication of more than 4,000 construction workers over the last three years,” Haigh said.
Central Corridor LRT represents a critical investment in the build out of a 21st century transit system. “It will support existing jobs, create new jobs and be a catalyst for future economic growth in our region,” she said.
The “Green Line” will provide improved access to five major centers of economic activity - the two downtowns, the University of Minnesota, the Midway district, the State Capitol complex and many neighborhoods in between. Together, the five jobs centers contain almost 280,000 jobs – a number that is expected to grow to 374,000 by 2030.
“Investing in a 21st century transportation system is vital to boosting Minnesota’s economy and helping lift up our local communities,” Klobuchar said. “This is an important step in the continued expansion of light rail service to better serve residents and businesses.”
Central Corridor is doing its part for job growth.
While the project has created opportunities for 4,067 construction workers from more than 60 Minnesota counties and 150 design, engineering and management jobs, the line will create 175 permanent maintenance and operations jobs. The construction jobs alone translate into a $252 million payroll being reinvested on Main Streets through the state.
“After a decade of collaboration and hard work, we are one step closer to opening the Central Corridor. This project has already put over 4,000 people to work. When trains start running in two short years, Central Corridor will connect our communities, create even more good jobs and generate new economic vitality throughout our region,” McCollum said.
Ramsey County Commissioner Jim McDonough highlighted the major changes coming to St. Paul. “Major attractions in St. Paul, including the nearly finished Union Depot renovation, will be destinations for many riders of the Green Line. But these aren’t the only attractions – the much-improved look and feel of University Avenue will help the corridor between the two downtowns also attract new visitors.”
This new LRV is symbolic of what the Twin Cities is working to accomplish through a metropolitan wide transportation blueprint, Hennepin County Commissioner Peter McLaughlin said.
“Just a stone’s throw from here is the Interchange construction project. The Interchange is scheduled to open in 2014, the same year this new LRV and the Central Corridor “Green Line” begin revenue operations. It’ll be a huge leap forward for metro-area transit users,” McLauglin said.
Both mayors praised light rail for the development opportunities it has brought.
“If you’ve traveled Hiawatha, you’ve seen the renaissance of new housing and businesses like the “Oaks” at 46th Street Station and now “Longfellow Station” at 38th Street. Central Corridor has even more potential for redevelopment, especially on the West Bank,” Rybak said.
St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman said developers already have started to capitalize on this opportunity with numerous shovel-ready housing projects dotting University Avenue and the downtown area, including the $88 million Penfield housing, hotel and grocery store project under construction.
“All that, plus the announcement of the St. Paul Saints ballpark construction project in Lowertown, has generated excitement for both business owners and residents who make downtown and Lowertown their home,” Coleman said. Forty-seven LRVs will be built for the “Green Line.” The region’s first LRT line, Hiawatha, will receive 12 new LRVs as well. The Hiawatha Line will be rebranded the “Blue Line” in the months ahead as that line’s existing 27 LRVs are repainted and station graphics are updated. The combined 59 new LRVs, which cost $3.3 million apiece, will allow both lines to operate three-car trains during peak times and for special events to meet growing ridership demands.
The newest LRVs, being built at Siemens’ Sacramento, Calif., plant, will be delivered through April 2014, peaking at four arrivals a month in 2013.
“Number 201 represents the next generation of light rail vehicles. It’s considerably lighter than the existing vehicles, requiring less electricity but has improved insulation and other features, making the “Green Line” a fitting name,” said Brian Lamb, Metro Transit general manager.
Testing of the new LRVs on Central Corridor tracks will begin in late 2013. The outcome of the tests will determine the line’s opening date in 2014.
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