After failing to come to terms with BNSF, Minneapolis officials are breaking off on their own for alternative route options for the Bottineau Blue Line light-rail project.
The original plan required using 8 miles of a 13-mile BNSF line, but the Class 1 railroad refused to negotiate. The Metropolitan Council and Hennepin County have now come up with an answer to the problem. However, the change means areas on the original plan will be left out.
The Blue Line light-rail project is the fourth for the Twin Cities and is an extension of the Blue Line between downtown Minneapolis and the airport. The line was supposed to connect downtown Minneapolis and Brooklyn Park via Golden Valley, Robbinsdale and Crystal. The proposed new routes keep the northern end of the first alignment, but Golden Valley is no longer on the service list. Trains could go either on Lowry Avenue or West Broadway in north Minneapolis, but from there officials need to decide where the route will go to reach the final stop, which is Target Field.
The new alignment will have to go through an environmental review and engineering work over the next few years. The Blue Line extension was supposed to be complete in 2024, but that deadline will be pushed back. The original cost was $1.5 billion, and about $129 million has already been committed to the project, but the final price tag is now expected to go up as well.