METRO Blue Line Extension route recommendation gets the green light

Written by David C. Lester, Editor-in-Chief
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METRO Blue Line Extension route has been adopted.
Metro Transit

The METRO Blue Line Extension officially has a new route after the Hennepin County Board and Metropolitan Council voted to adopt the revised route modification on June 22.

These actions allow project leaders to move forward on this important transit project by continuing environmental, design, engineering, and anti-displacement activities in preparation for the eventual full funding grant agreement application to the Federal Transit Administration.

METRO Transit serves Minneapolis & northwestern communities

METRO Transit

“When I began my tenure as the Metropolitan Council Chair, the METRO Blue Line Extension was different from the route that was adopted today,” said Charles Zelle. “When we made the tough decision to move away from the original freight rail aligned route, we quickly realized we had an opportunity to reevaluate not only the route, but also our priorities for the project. I believe the benefits of the new route exceed the original route, from providing needed transit connections in North Minneapolis to serving North Memorial Hospital in Robbinsdale and the growing communities of Crystal and Brooklyn Park. This is a critical transportation investment for our communities and region.

Modified Route for Blue Line Extension (Metropolitan Council)

With the new route officially recognized, I look forward to continuing our conversations with community partners and bringing this project across the finish line.”

The Met Council and Hennepin County Board actions come after more than 18 months of robust community engagement where project staff held hundreds of community meetings and virtual open houses, and thousands of face-to-face community interactions. Feedback received guided decision making through the route selection process. As the project moves into this next phase, project staff will continue to solicit feedback and communicate with the community to ensure the project delivers maximum benefit.

“I am proud of the work Hennepin County and the Metropolitan Council have done to identify and now adopt the new route for the METRO Blue Line Extension,” said Irene Fernando, Hennepin County District 2 Commissioner and Chair of the Hennepin County Regional Railroad Authority. “The new proposed route for the Blue Line Extension light rail project will bring transformational benefits to residents from Minneapolis to Brooklyn Park. The communities served by the route are transit-reliant and racially diverse and have experienced historical disinvestment. The proposed route will connect students to education, workers to jobs, patients to healthcare, and families to resources, while connecting the corridor to the broader transit network. This project will ignite economic development for small businesses, result in more affordable housing options, increase access to educational opportunities, and build wealth for working families.”

“The impacts of this project are transformational for our communities, our county, and our region,” said Jeff Lunde, Hennepin County District 1 Commissioner. “I am proud of my vote to adopt the new route and I hope others recognize what this project means for our communities. It will not only connect people to opportunity, but also provide much needed infrastructure benefits such as improved pedestrian access, utility upgrades and roadway improvements. This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to meaningfully change people’s lives.”

As the project moves forward to the start of construction sometime in 2025, anti-displacement efforts will continue. The Anti-Displacement Work Group led by the Met Council and Hennepin County and facilitated by the University of Minnesota’s Center for Urban and Regional Affairs has been meeting to discuss actionable policies to minimize the potential displacement that may occur due to the project.

“I fully support the new Blue Line Extension route, and I believe it is important to ensure the historical displacement these projects can bring are not repeated,” said Reva Chamblis, Metropolitan Council Member for District 2. “To that end, I support the project’s anti-displacement efforts and am thankful for the project’s willingness to recognize past wrongs and work towards a solution that secures tangible community benefits. My hope going forward is we continue our deep work with community and find real solutions to real issues.”

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