The Metropolitan Council received federal approval to begin designing the METRO Blue Line Extension northwest of Minneapolis, Minn., the region's fourth light-rail transit project. Future approvals needed include approval to enter Final Engineering (anticipated late 2016) and approval of the Full Funding Grant Agreement (anticipated in 2018).
“The Blue Line Extension and the future Green Line Extension (Southwest LRT) will help Minneapolis residents and those from northwest and southwest communities get to work and school, delivering on our promise of equity,” Metropolitan Council Chair Sue Haigh said. “Completion of these lines is the key to building a fully-developed multi-modal system to serve the people of this region.”
As currently planned, the 13-mile line with up to 11 new stations and Target Field Station would extend through north Minneapolis, Golden Valley, Robbinsdale and Crystal to Brooklyn Park. Planners expect the primarily at-grade double-tracked line will have 27,000 average weekday riders by 2030. The line would begin revenue service in 2021.
It will connect activity centers, including the Target North corporate campus, North Hennepin Community College, downtown Robbinsdale, Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute and downtown Minneapolis, as well as provide a one-seat ride on the existing Blue Line to the VA Medical Center, Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport and Mall of America.
The Blue Line Extension will connect Minneapolis and the northwest communities with the region’s system of transitways. They include existing LRT on the METRO Blue and Green lines, future LRT on the METRO Green Line Extension, bus rapid transit on the METRO Red Line, the Northstar commuter rail line and local and express bus routes.
Fifty percent of the project’s $997-million budget would come from the Federal Transit Administration, 30 percent from the Counties Transit Improvement Board (CTIB), 10 percent from Hennepin County and 10 percent from the state. State funding for the Blue Line Extension will follow fulfillment of the state’s share for Southwest LRT. The council, along with the Minnesota Department of Transportation, transit advocates and businesses plans to pursue a dedicated funding source for transit at the legislature during the 2015 session.