Supplemental EIS Preparation Notice
Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (Supplemental EIS) for the METRO Blue Line Light Rail (LRT) Extension Project.
Description / scope of Supplemental EIS
The BLRT Extension is a light rail transit project located in the cities of Brooklyn Park, Crystal, Robbinsdale, and Minneapolis. In 2016, the Metropolitan Council published a Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and Determination of Adequacy, based on the preferred project route at that time. Since then, project partners have undertaken a process to modify the proposed route to avoid using freight rail rights-of-way. The route modification process was documented in a draft report, available for public review and comment, and a final report published in April 2022. In June 2022, project sponsors (Metropolitan Council and Hennepin County) identified the final recommended route to advance in design and environmental review: West Broadway Avenue in Brooklyn Park to Bottineau Boulevard (County Road 81), Bottineau Boulevard in Crystal and Robbinsdale to West Broadway Avenue in North Minneapolis, connecting to Target Field Station in downtown Minneapolis. The scope of the METRO Blue Line Extension Supplemental EIS is generally described below; a no-build option will be analyzed as well as required by environmental review rules.
West Broadway Avenue / Brooklyn Park
The location of the LRT on West Broadway Avenue and the location of the operation and maintenance facility north of Hwy 610 is unchanged since the Final EIS (2016). LRT would follow West Broadway Avenue (County Road 103) from Oak Grove Parkway to 73rd Avenue in Brooklyn Park. The project would include stations at Oak Grove, 93rd Avenue, 85th Avenue, and Brooklyn Boulevard. The reconstruction and expansion of West Broadway (from north of Brooklyn Boulevard to 93rd Avenue) is now part of the scope of the Supplemental EIS.
Bottineau Boulevard (County Road 81) / Southern Brooklyn Park and Crystal
A change in LRT alignment to run within the median on Bottineau Boulevard will be evaluated. Stations at 63rd Avenue and Bass Lake Road remain at similar locations as the 2016 preferred route; however, they are moved from the BNSF corridor to the median of Bottineau Boulevard, with corresponding changes in station access and design. The Supplemental EIS will also evaluate changes to Bottineau Boulevard needed to accommodate the LRT, including a conventional intersection with a pedestrian bridge, and an elevated structure carrying Bottineau Boulevard over Bass Lake Road.
Bottineau Boulevard (County Road 81) / Robbinsdale
In Robbinsdale, LRT would follow Bottineau Boulevard (County Road 81) between 73rd Avenue in Brooklyn Park to the transition of County Road 81 to West Broadway Avenue at the Robbinsdale/Minneapolis border. The project includes stations at 63rd Avenue and Bass Lake Road in Crystal, and stations in the downtown of and at North Memorial Hospital in Robbinsdale. A change in LRT alignment from the FEIS (2016) to run within the median on Bottineau Boulevard will be evaluated. A new station located in the median of Bottineau Boulevard with a park-and-ride facility in downtown Robbinsdale will be evaluated. A new elevated station at Lowry Avenue near North Memorial Hospital will also be evaluated; this station would be elevated over Oakdale Avenue, Theodore Wirth Parkway, and the southbound lanes of Bottineau Boulevard.
West Broadway Avenue / Minneapolis
LRT would follow West Broadway Avenue from Minneapolis/Robbinsdale border to Lyndale Avenue through North Minneapolis. Between Lowry Ave and North Irving Avenue, the project will evaluate center running LRT on West Broadway. East of North Irving Avenue, the project will evaluate two options: an LRT option on West Broadway and an LRT option on 21st Avenue.
Two route options to Target Field Station will be evaluated; both routes connect to 21st Avenue or West Broadway. Both route options would travel over I-94 on a bridge. One option uses Lyndale Avenue to Olson Memorial Hwy (TH 55) or N 7th St. The other option runs along the east side of I-94 parallel to Washington Avenue and uses 10th Avenue N to N 7th Street.
The Supplemental EIS will focus on potentially significant changes to the project based on the identification of the METRO Blue Line Extension recommended route. The full range of environmental, social, and economic impacts will be evaluated as was presented in the Final EIS (2016). A fall/early winter 2023 publication of the Supplemental Draft EIS is anticipated, with a Supplemental Final EIS anticipated in late 2024.
Responsible Governmental Unit
Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) Process
The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the Minnesota Environmental Policy Act (MEPA) require that an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) be prepared for certain actions that affect the environment. The EIS provides a means to analyze environmental, social and economic factors and consider environmental impacts, alternatives and mitigation strategies in the planning and decision-making process.
The new recommended route requires the project team to prepare a new EIS. Between summer 2022 and spring 2023, the project team will prepare the new Draft EIS. During this phase, the environmental team will work closely with the engineering team to guide the design of the alignment and multiple design solutions and their relative impacts and benefits will be compared. After a public comment phase, the team will then prepare the Final EIS in summer 2023 to early winter 2023, which will update the social, economic, and environmental impacts to reflect the refined project design and finalize the mitigation commitments.
More information on the environmental documentation process as well as previously completed environmental documentation for the project can be found below.
Scoping documents were produced during the first step in the NEPA/EIS process. Scoping is designed to engage the public, interest groups, affected tribes and government agencies (including opportunities for public involvement) and to present the purpose and need for the project, the proposed alternatives to address the needs identified, and potential benefits and impacts for public and agency review early in the NEPA/EIS process. The scoping process for the METRO Blue Line Extension was managed by the Hennepin County Regional Railroad Authority (HCRRA).
Draft Environmental Impact Statement
The Draft Environmental Impact Statement (Draft EIS) is the initial statement prepared by the project sponsor and circulated for review and comment before a Final Environmental Impact Statement (Final EIS) is prepared.
The Hennepin County Regional Railroad Authority (HCRRA) was the project sponsor and Responsible Governmental Unit (RGU) through the completion of the DEIS. HCRRA published the Draft EIS and received comments on the DEIS from April 11, 2014 through May 29, 2014. Upon transfer of RGU authority from HCRRA to the Metropolitan Council, HCRRA transferred the comments received on the Draft EIS to the Metropolitan Council for analysis during Project Development.
Final Environmental Impact Statement
The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) and the Metropolitan Council published the project's Final Environmental Impact Statement (Final EIS) on July 15, 2016. The Final EIS identifies impacts from the Blue Line Extension Project, including measures to avoid, minimize and mitigate these impacts. The Final EIS also includes the Project’s Section 404 permit application, Amended Draft Section 4(f) and 6(f) Evaluation, Section 106 Memorandum of Agreement, and responses to comments received on the Draft EIS.