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Friday, December 11, 2009

Twin Cities to open new light rail station Dec. 12

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A new station on the Hiawatha light-rail line in he Twin Cities is scheduled to open Dec. 12. Located on 34th Avenue just south of I-494/Hwy 5, American Boulevard Station will serve as the transportation anchor for a future transit-oriented development initiative in the City of Bloomington's Airport South District.

Officials from the Metropolitan Council, Hennepin County and the City of Bloomington, Minn., commissioned the station in a brief ceremony saluting the construction workers who built the facility. A reception for the workers followed at the nearby Holiday Inn hotel.

"American Boulevard Station is an important and visible component in Bloomington's vision to transform this area into a sustainable, urban environment with a mix of residential, commercial and retail uses that capitalize on our unique assets - converging transit routes, the Minnesota Valley national wildlife refuge, Mall of America and proximity to the airport," said Bloomington Mayor Gene Winstead. "Because we are focusing over the next decade on the economic, environmental, cultural and social aspects of development, the Airport South District will be viewed as a great place to live, work and play."

Construction of the $2.4-million American Boulevard Station began in June 2009 and was financed through a combination of sources from the Bloomington Port Authority, Hennepin County Regional Rail Authority, Metropolitan Council and federal grants. It is the first Hiawatha station to feature a split-platform design with trains headed to Minneapolis stopping north of American Boulevard and Mall-bound trains stopping south of the intersection.

"We commend the City of Bloomington for integrating public transportation into its development framework," said Metro Transit General Manager Brian Lamb. "This is the fourth light-rail station in the city. It hosts a major transit hub at Mall of America and it is a key supporter of the Cedar Avenue transitway."

American Boulevard Station was built by crews from Sheehy Construction Company of St. Paul and its subcontractors. Sheehy also is the lead contractor on the project that is lengthening Hiawatha station platforms to accommodate the future use of three-car trains.

The Hiawatha Line is operated by Metro Transit, a service of the Metropolitan Council. Customers boarded Hiawatha trains 10.2 million times last year.

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