About the Blue Line Extension

Full route map from Oak Grove Parkway in Brooklyn Park at the north, south and then southeast at Brooklyn Center, to Lyndale Avenue, south to Target Field.The METRO Blue Line Extension is proposed to operate on 13.4 miles of track connecting downtown Minneapolis to the communities of North Minneapolis, Robbinsdale, Crystal, and Brooklyn Park. This light rail project would provide transit improvements in the highly traveled northwest area of the Twin Cities metro region and a one-seat ride from Brooklyn Park to MSP Airport and Mall of America. The project provides an opportunity to invest in BIPOC communities and reduce regional disparities.

Connecting with the existing METRO Blue Line at Target Field Station, the extension and its 12 new stations will be part of an integrated system of transitways serving the region, including connections to METRO Green Line, Northstar commuter rail line, bus rapid transit lines, existing bus service, and proposed future transitways.

This route will:

  • Connect people to new opportunities and destinations.
  • Link people more efficiently to educational and employment opportunities, reduce transit commute times, and increase access to goods and services in an area where building community wealth is a priority.
  • Improve public health and reduce pollution by connecting people to quality health care and providing clean active transportation options.
  • Make a generational and unprecedented transit investment in a corridor that has experienced a history of systemic racism and high percentage of zero-car households.

What's next for the project

2024 will be a big year for the METRO Blue Line Extension project. Project staff will be working on more detailed plans for local review and approval, and we'll be out in community in more ways than ever, connecting with residents and businesses as we work together to advance this generational transit investment for corridor communities.

  • Municipal consent: This summer, cities along the route will start the process known as "municipal consent," which will include local review and feedback of physical design elements. Keep an eye out for community meetings and public hearings to be scheduled in your city.
  • Environmental review: In 2024, project staff, in partnership with the Federal Transit Administration, will publish the Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement (SDEIS) and will share environmental findings during the summer months. This document will clearly outline potential project impacts and opportunities. There will be a 45-day public comment period to inform the next phase and the Supplemental Final Environmental Impact Statement, which will identify solutions for impacts, including how to avoid, minimize and mitigate them.
  • Anti-displacement and community prosperity:
    • The Anti-Displacement Working group will reconvene in January to guide implementation of strategies to support residents and businesses before, during, and after construction.
    • Corridor partners are pursuing a coordinated legislative strategy at the Minnesota Capital to secure investment and policy actions that support anti-displacement and community prosperity work.
    • Partners are advancing specific strategies in areas like workforce, mitigation of property impacts, community ownership, and other areas.
  • Updated project cost and ridership estimates:
    • Project staff expect to share updated projected estimates for cost and ridership this spring. These are two of many factors the FTA will consider in evaluating the project for federal funding.
  • Cultivate Arts will be back in 2024 with a new program consisting of local artists to creatively engage communities on the project. Be on the lookout for engagement activities this summer.

As the project moves into these next phases, community feedback will continue to be crucial to inform decisions and design and ensure the project delivers maximum benefits for the communities it will serve.

2023 in review

Thank you to everyone who engaged with us on this project in 2023! Your input is critical, and many important milestones were reached this past year with community voices at the forefront.

Anti-displacement

  • May 2023: In coordination with Hennepin County and Met Council, Minnesota’s Center for Urban and Regional Affairs’ (CURA) published the Blue Line Extension Anti-Displacement Recommendations report that is providing a strong foundation to help corridor partners ensure the project creates prosperity for people in the corridor today and for generations to come. In June 2023, the project’s Corridor Management Committee (CMC) voted to receive CURA’s report and recommendations of the Anti-Displacement Work Group and committed to advancing this work together.

Advancement of route and station locations

  • September 2023: The Blue Line Extension Corridor Management Committee, including Hennepin County and the Metropolitan Council, gave their support for advancing the staff-recommended light rail track route and general station locations for further study in the Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement.

Funding approved

  • September 2023: The Met Council and Hennepin County approved a grant agreement that will provide county funds for the Blue Line Extension to keep project work going through the end of 2024.

Alignment principles


Meet Federal Transit Administration New Starts criteria

  • Maintain BLRT Purpose and Need
  • Maintain mode
  • Minimize travel time
  • Maximize ridership
  • Maximize community and economic development
  • Maximize project rating
  • When appropriate, pursue opportunities to serve even more people and destinations, especially areas with lower rates of car ownership/vehicular access and those with mobility challenges

Maintain existing alignment as much as possible

  • Maintain existing termini: Target Field Station in Minneapolis and Oak Grove Station in Brooklyn Park
  • Serve the existing corridor cities of Brooklyn Park, Crystal, Robbinsdale, Golden Valley, Minneapolis, and their major destinations

Mitigate negative impacts

  • Complement existing and planned METRO transitways
  • Minimize residential, commercial and environmental impacts
  • Support safety and connections prioritizing people walking, biking, and rolling
  • Maximize carbon pollution reduction

Engagement principles

 

Meaningfully engage stakeholders

  • Honor and build on previous robust community engagement
  • Tailor engagement practices to meet the needs of the individual communities in the corridor

Engage, inform, and consult diverse communities to co-create project solutions that reduce disparities

  • Ensure corridor communities of all races, ethnicities, incomes and abilities are engaged so all communities and corridor cities share in growth opportunities, with an emphasis on low-income and cultural communities
  • Use community goals, priorities, and criteria for growth to inform decision-making
  • Adjust strategies and approach as needed to ensure corridor communities are fully represented in engagement efforts

Identifying a community-supported route

Since August 2020, the project has held more than 75 events and connected directly with more than 18,000 people. As part of this outreach, the project contracted with community and cultural organizations to increase feedback and representation from low-income and communities of color.

Major themes heard from outreach participants:

  • Avoid impacts/disruption to communities and the environment
  • Safety on transit and in communities served
  • Easy pedestrian access to and from stations
  • Anti-displacement efforts are a priority
  • Support for businesses during construction
  • Access to regional destinations
  • Support economic development
  • Improve the transit experience
  • Improve access for and serve transit dependent populations

Learn more about our past and upcoming engagement efforts.

Hennepin County’s Bottineau Community Works program is a collaboration between the county, corridor cities, and other public partners. Since 2015, Bottineau Community Works has convened cities and other partners to coordinate planning, policy, and infrastructure improvements that support equitable development and meet community goals and desires.

In 2021, policymakers reconvened the Bottineau Community Works Steering Committee to align resources, explore best practices and identify actions to help maximize the community and economic development benefits that light rail can bring.

September 2023: Metropolitan Council and Hennepin County recommend track alignment and general station locations to be studied in the Supplemental Draft EIS.

June 2022: Metropolitan Council and Hennepin County advance route recommendation.

April 2022: Metropolitan Council and Hennepin County release recommended revised route

December 2022: Metropolitan Council and Hennepin County release draft route modification report.

March 2021: Metropolitan Council and Hennepin County release revised potential route options.

2020 – 2021: The project team explored community-supported alignments that mitigate the use of freight rail property.

August 2020: Hennepin County and the Metropolitan Council issued a joint statement on advancing the project without using 8 miles of freight railroad right-of-way.

2017 – 2018: Engineering phase, including advancing design and engineering plans for the line.

January 2017: FTA approved the Blue Line Extension project to enter the Engineering phase of the New Starts process. The Engineering phase includes completing third-party agreements and finalizing design, including coming to agreement with BNSF regarding co-location of freight and light rail for approximately 8 miles in the corridor.

September 2016: FTA issued a Record of Decision. Metropolitan Council approved the final scope and budget and the environmental Determination of Adequacy, and submitted application to enter the Engineering phase of the FTA’s New Starts funding process.

July 2016: FTA and Metropolitan Council published the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS).

March 2016: In the Municipal Consent process, cities along the Blue Line Extension route and Hennepin County reviewed and approved preliminary design plans.

August 2014: The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) approved the Blue Line Extension to enter the Project Development phase. The Metropolitan Council became the project lead with the transfer of Responsible Government Unit status from Hennepin County.

Spring 2014: Station area planning work, led by Hennepin County, began in the spring of 2014. Station area plans were developed for each station and were adopted by their respective cities in 2015 through 2016.

March 2014: The Bottineau Transitway Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) was published.

May 2013: The Metropolitan Council adopted the route and mode recommended by HCRRA as the Locally Preferred Alternative in the regional 2030 Transportation Policy Plan.

June 2012: The Hennepin County Regional Railroad Authority (HCRRA) recommended construction of light rail along West Broadway Avenue in Brooklyn Park, the BNSF Railroad (BNSF) corridor, and Olson Memorial Highway/Trunk Highway 55.

March 2010: Final Alternatives Analysis Study report published.


 

Request a presentation

Project staff are available for conversations and presentations to your community/neighborhood/business groups.

Contact

Nkongo Cigolo
Nkongo.Cigolo@Metrotransit.org

METRO Blue Line Extension

Blue Line Extension Project Office
Park Place West Building, Suite 600
6465 Wayzata Boulevard
St. Louis Park, MN 55426