Two Electric Transmission Lines Need To Be Moved for Blue Line Light Rail Extension

Written by Jennifer McLawhorn, Managing Editor
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Courtesy of Tony Webster

MINNEAPOLIS – For the Blue Line light rail extension in Minneapolis, two Xcel Energy underground electric transmission lines will need to be moved.

Originally, the route operated alongside BNSF freight trains, but it “did not serve the North Loop or much of North Minneapolis and was abandoned in 2020.” According to the Star Tribune, the need to move transmission lines has “raised question about the cost and time needed to move the lines, which provide power to parts of downtown Minneapolis.” The lines are located between 7th Street and Washington Avenue and travel underneath 10th Avenue. Both the Met Council and Hennepin County have said they can reach a solution with Xcel.

Metro Transit director of transit system design and engineering Nick Landwer said they “look at it as just normal coordination [with utilities], although this one takes a little more work. . . We’re working with the Xcel team to simplify how to get the work done. It doesn’t pose an issue at all.”

Map of proposed extension / Courtesy of Met Council

The proposed 13.5-mile route is expected to open in 2030 and run from Target Field to Brooklyn Park through Minneapolis, Robbinsdale, and Crystal. However, Xcel’s transmissions lines are in a public right of way, so “the utility will assume the cost to move them.” With construction expected to start in 2027, the schedule needs to accommodate the moving of the lines which “take a little longer to relocate.”

Hennepin County director of transit and mobility Dan Soler said, “there were complexities in rerouting utilities in downtown St. Paul and along University Avenue for the Green Line light-rail project, which began service nearly a decade ago.”

A spokesperson for Xcel Energy, Theo Keith, said there have been early discussions with transit planners in regard to the transmission lines and that the “process is in the very early stages.” Those who are opposed to the current 10th Avenue alignment have reportedly proposed an alternate route that would move it closer to I-94. The alternative route would be farther and serve less people, but some people would prefer it because it avoids the transmission line issue. 

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