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Community Light Rail Retro Transit

Staff preserving transit of today and yesterday 

Posted by Drew Kerr | Thursday, July 07, 2016 2:51:00 PM

Signals Foreperson Mike Miller inside the Winona Streetcar No. 10 currently being restored in Excelsior.Mike Miller was studying electronics when he paid his first visit to the newly-opened Como-Harriet Streetcar Line in south Minneapolis.

Immediately intrigued, he began working alongside volunteers committed to keeping Streetcar No. 1300, a vestige of Twin City Rapid Transit that once ran on University Avenue, operating between Lake Harriet and Lake Calhoun.

Nearly 40 years later Miller is helping bring yet another piece of streetcar history back to life, spending several hours a week wiring and installing electrical components on a streetcar that operated in Winona from 1913 through 1938.

A small group of Minnesota Streetcar Museum volunteers began meticulously restoring the streetcar a decade ago. Freshly painted pumpkin orange and cream, the Winona No. 10 streetcar is expected to make its public debut on a short stretch of track near downtown Excelsior later this year.

“It really is a strikingly handsome car,” Miller said recently from the carbarn where the streetcar and others in various states of repair are kept.

Miller’s involvement in the project is a study in contrasts: by day, he works as a Signal Foreperson ensuring the lights, signals and sensors along the region’s presentday light rail lines are operating as intended.

But while there are clear differences — light-rail cars feed off of 3,000-amp substations while the Excelsior streetcar line uses a 300-amp power supply — there are also plenty of parallels. 

A box tucked beneath a passenger seat will house an alarm panel similar to those found on light-rail vehicles. Miles of wiring connect relays, sensors and fuses that control the doors, lights and bells. And a custom-designed control panel mounted in the cab allows the operator to quickly troubleshoot while in service.

The streetcar retains its authentic feel, but the wiring provides modern-day protections that improve safety and reliability. 

“When I talk about what I’m doing with colleagues at work, they say ‘You’re not restoring a streetcar, you’re building a light-rail vehicle,’” said Miller, who began in Metro Transit’s radio shop in 2001. “Well, almost.”

Miller isn’t the only Metro Transit staffer with a foot in the old and new worlds of transportation. 

Bus operator Fred Beamish and Senior Planner John Dillery volunteer as streetcar operators on the Como-Harriet Streetcar Line. Senior Signal Engineer Phil Wellman and Engineering & Facilities Intern Ryan Heath serve on the St. Paul’s Minnesota Transportation Museum’s Board of Directors.

Wellman’s grandfather and great-grandfather each worked in the railroad industry and he began volunteering at the museum while still in high school, scraping grease from old locomotives.

Senior Signal Engineer Phil Wellman on one of the locomotives operated by the Minnesota Transportation Museum.The work led him to a job as an entry-level Signals Systems Draftsman and, in 2003, to his joining Metro Transit’s fledgling Signals Department. The locomotives the museum operates between Osceola, Wisc. and Marine on St. Croix, Minn., are decades old but Wellman said there are still similarities to the work he does at Metro Transit.

“I’m very comfortable working in both worlds and there are a lot of parallel principles so it’s fun to crossover,” Wellman said.

Several Metro Transit retirees are also actively engaged in the preservation of Minnesota’s transportation history.

Retired Mechanic-Technician Howie Melco, whose grandfather was a streetcar operator, became involved in the Como-Harriet Streetcar Line when he was 19 years old and has used his craftsmanship to help bring several streetcars back to life over the years.

On the Winona streetcar, he carefully sliced off the bottom eight inches of the body, replacing it seamlessly with new material and applying layers of glossy paint. “It’s getting exciting toward the end here,” Melco said.

Aaron Isaacs, who worked at Metro Transit from 1973 to 2006, has written extensively about the region’s streetcar history and leads the Minnesota Streetcar Museum, which operates both the Como-Harriet and Excelsior lines.

The Como-Harriet streetcar barn was recently expanded to provide space for another streetcar and a collection of streetcar history.

For Miller, the Signal Foreperson, the decades spent volunteering with the Minnesota Streetcar Museum are both inspiring and rewarding. He’s especially proud of the Winona restoration, his biggest undertaking to date. Miller estimates the project will command at least 1,000 hours of his time before completion.

“Sooner or later this thing is going to run,” he said. “I look forward to saying I helped make it happen.”

 
 
Bus Retro Transit

A half-century later, career comes to a close 

Posted by Drew Kerr | Monday, June 06, 2016 4:15:00 PM

Sy Sharp retired in early-2016 with more than 52 years of service in Metro Transit's Bus Maintenance department. Silas “Sy” Sharp never shied away from work.

After serving in the Korean War, he spent his days as a heavy equipment operator with the City of Minneapolis and his nights at the Minneapolis Athletic Club, full-time jobs that took 16 hours of his day even as he studied management at the University of Minnesota.

In 1963, on the advice of a club member who worked in transit, he took a job in bus maintenance at what was then known as the Metropolitan Transit Commission, or MTC. For 22 years, he held full-time jobs with both the city and MTC.

Sharp retired from the city after 30 years, and in early 2016 retired from Metro Transit with 52 years of service – the longest tenure in agency history.

“I didn’t get much sleep sometimes – I averaged about three hours of sleep a night, four maybe,” Sharp, 80, said in a recent interview. “I’m the type of guy, I just love working.”                   

At 28 years old, Sharp began his career as a cleaner sweeping buses at the old Northside Garage in Minneapolis. He later became what was known as a “hostler,” fueling and moving buses around the garage.

His strong work ethic and history as a Sgt. in the Army led him to be recruited as a garage foreman, the first of several management positions he held in bus maintenance. Sharp also worked as a foreman at the old Snelling Garage and as the maintenance manager at the Nicollet and Martin J. Ruter garages.

Sharp is particularly proud of his time at Nicollet. The garage was underperforming, and he was challenged to turn around.

Under Sharp’s leadership, the garage made significant improvements. At one point, it exceeded bus reliability goals, measured as the average miles between road calls, for nearly two straight years. The garage later became home to Metro Transit’s first hybrid buses.

“There were a lot of people here who said it couldn’t be done,” Sharp said. “I said, ‘There’s no such thing as can’t,’ because that’s what I was taught. That it can be done if you apply yourself. And Nicollet went from being one of the worst to the best. I was very proud of that.”

Sharp credits his upbringing – he grew up on a Texas farm with strict parents – for teaching him to hold high standards. 

An ability to identify and leverage the talents of those around him and a commitment to recognizing staff when they did well also helped, Sharp said. (Hundreds of doughnuts were dispersed to staff throughout his career.)                    

Sharp was able to develop those relationships in part by making a point of being available to all his employees, arriving at work by 5 a.m. each morning and staying through mid-afternoon so he could see workers from all three shifts.

After devoting much of his life to work, Sharp said the decision to retire earlier this year was one of the most difficult he’s ever made. “To put your heart and soul into something for 52 years, then just quit doing it is very difficult,” he said.

Recently re-visiting Nicollet Garage, though, he seemed at peace with his decision, telling his former co-workers about his new pursuits, wishing them well in their own endeavors and inviting them to join him at an upcoming retirement celebration.

Months into his retirement, Sharp, is indeed settling into a new routine – sleeping in a few extra hours, working on his retirement home in Florida and spending more time with his family, including wife Mary, three daughters, two sons and 12 grandchildren.

“I’m happy I did it,” Sharp said as he reflected on his work life. “But I wouldn’t tell anybody else to do it because it’s a lot of sacrifice and a lot of hard work.”

    > A unique career: 50 years in transit

    > Sy Sharp reflects on 50 years of service [video]

Bus Bus Maintenance Retro Transit

Jan Homan: 40 years of service and a legacy that will last a lifetime 

Posted by Drew Kerr | Wednesday, March 23, 2016 9:52:00 AM

The first night Jan Homan reported for work – Christmas Eve 1975 – he was asked to do nothing more than keep an eye on the new Shingle Creek bus garage.

A warehouse that would eventually be home to buses, mechanics and operators was for the moment an empty building on a dead-end street.

Left alone on second-shift, Homan took his responsibilities seriously, locking every door in the building and preventing his replacement from entering the building.

“There really wasn’t much to do but he wanted to do it right,” said Bill Porter, who gave Homan that initial assignment and spent several years as his supervisor and colleague. “And that’s been Jan his whole life.”

That first evening might have been the only quiet moment of Homan's 40-year career.    

In the decades since the lanky 20-year-old pulled into the Shingle Creek lot driving a 1966 Oldsmobile Toronado, Homan continued to take on new challenges and built a reputation for being an engaged, thoughtful leader who was eager to break new ground both individually and as an organization. 

Upon retirement, Homan is also being remembered as a caring leader who set high standards, but also supported people in pursuit of those lofty goals. The result: a dramatic transformation of Metro Transit's bus fleet, and a legacy that will last a lifetime.

###

Long before he was tapped to lead Metro Transit’s bus maintenance and transportation divisions, Homan’s career began the same way it did for many in Bus Maintenance – as a Cleaner sweeping buses for $4.28 an hour.

As a trained mechanic who replaced his first engine at just 15-years-old, it wasn’t the kind of work he was looking for. But what co-workers at the Sears Ridgedale auto shop saw as a step backwards, Homan saw as an opportunity. And in less than a year he was back to being a full-fledged mechanic, working out of the old Northside Garage in Minneapolis.

Homan’s aspirations didn’t end there, either.

In 1979, Homan put his name in to lead maintenance efforts on Metro Transit’s fledgling non-revenue fleet. The job was given to someone else, but his initiative was rewarded with an opportunity to become a foreman at Nicollet Garage. The decision to say yes, he said, “changed his life.”

Homan’s younger brother, Matt, remembers Homan being a manager from a young age – even doling out tasks as they worked together on vehicles at home. But his first experience as a supervisor still had a defined learning curve.

New in his role, Homan asked a group of fuelers to stop playing pool. The team returned to work but buses were soon mysteriously backed up for a full city block. The lesson, Homan said, was to “find out what’s worth taking on and what’s not worth taking on.”

And while he might have learned to be selective, he still found plenty to take on. “Ever since then, I was totally engaged and my days just flew by,” he said.

###

Homan’s arrival at Metro Transit coincided with another fateful point in the organization’s history: the purchase of more than 300 AM General buses. Built by a former defense contractor entering the transit industry for the first time, the buses quickly proved problematic.

“Basically, the whole fleet was going down,” Homan remembers. “And as our buses were breaking down left and right, Bus Maintenance really became the stepchild of the agency.”

Homan wanted to be a part of the solution. So he continued looking for other new leadership opportunities where he could effect change.

The ambition led him to a role overseeing a group of high-seniority mechanics at Overhaul Base, and later to a job as the Maintenance Manager at Heywood Garage – the largest and most challenging of Metro Transit’s five garages.

Homan remembers being intimidated by his growing responsibilities, but embracing them as opportunities to see how much he was capable of. “You do something for a while, make your contributions, and then it’s nice to do something new – to stretch yourself and contribute in another area,” he said.

And contribute he did.

At Heywood, Homan introduced new concepts that allowed mechanics to specialize in specific areas and to work more stable schedules. He also helped re-define the inspection process, moving from crisis repairs toward an emphasis on preventative maintenance.

Just as Homan was getting comfortable, there was a twist: needing to fill a leadership role in Service Development, Homan was tapped to temporarily lead Metro Transit’s Scheduling Department.

He spent the next nine months absorbing information on a subject he admittedly knew little about. And as he had done before, he thrived. “I knew what I could contribute, but I also knew the strengths of others and how to leverage that,” Homan said.

Challenging others to push themselves in the same ways he had would become the hallmark of Homan’s late-career.

###

Twenty-five years after Homan began his career in transit, he found himself leading the department where he got his start. And it was in this role, as Director of Bus Maintenance, that he began thinking about how he could help nurture the careers of others with similar ambitions.

To do so, he championed programs that gave front-line workers without supervisor pedigrees the opportunity to gain the kind of experience they needed to move up in the company. He also challenged mechanics to learn new skills and earn certifications and formed a partnership with his alma mater, North Hennepin Technical College.

Among those who benefited from these efforts was Bill Beck, who participated in what was known as the STEP Program. Beck is now a manager at the Overhaul Base.

“It changed my whole career path and gave me the chances that I have today,” Beck said. “I can’t say enough how much appreciate Jan’s thinking and allowing me to be a part of it.”

Regardless of where someone was at in their career, though, Jan had a knack for encouraging them to aim higher.

“He was really a master at stretching people,” said Joe Reichstadt, Assistant Director of Bus Maintenance. “There wasn’t any team member that wasn’t challenged to think outside the box or normal process and we were thankful for that.”

###

Homan’s ability to identify and encourage leaders is a defining part of his legacy. But Metro Transit’s fleet also serves as a testament to his career.

With more than 1,000 buses, Metro Transit’s fleet is among the largest in the nation. It’s also among the most reliable.

In 2015, buses traveled an average of more than 7,500 miles between service road calls – a key measure of fleet reliability. The number has more than doubled over the last decade.

And it might be even higher if Homan hadn’t insisted that all road calls be counted, whether or not Bus Maintenance could identify an issue, to better reflect the customer experience.

Thomas Humphrey, Assistant Director of Bus Maintenance, worked closely with Jan to monitor bus performance and use the data to drive decision-making.  “It was all about that core value of holding ourselves to a higher standard,” he said.

Homan also led efforts to embrace new technology. In 2002, Metro Transit became one of the first agencies in the country to incorporate hybrid-electric buses. The agency is also home to two Minnesota-made clean diesel buses that get better fuel economy through the use of all electrically-operated components and propulsion.

Hybrid buses now make up 15 percent of Metro Transit’s fleet, and the agency is exploring the potential for fully-electric buses.

The fleet is also known as being one of the cleanest in the country and for standing up to harsh Minnesota winters.

“We have one of the outstanding fleets in the country – 1,000 buses in the toughest conditions – but we still set the standard for appearance and reliability,” said Vince Pellegrin, who preceded Homan as Director of Bus Maintenance. “When I think of Jan Homan, I really think of the icon of the bus maintenance industry.”

###

In his final chapter, as Deputy Chief of Operations-Bus, Homan oversaw both the maintenance and transportation divisions. The move gave him an opportunity to shape not just bus maintenance but all aspects of bus operations, including operator training, garage management and street supervision.

While it was unknown territory, Homan immediately immersed himself in the transportation side of the business. “He took the time with us to really understand what we do and how important our operators are to the success of Metro Transit,” said Christy Bailly, Director of Bus Transportation.

In this role, Homan helped re-organize the department so leaders could focus exclusively on training, street operations and garage operations. He also helped implement a new employee performance management system that helps managers efficiently monitor operations and stay on track toward short- and long-term goals.

And he continued to be a career-builder, working to re-launch a program that gives staff the managerial experience to advance and initiating a first-of-its-kind effort to create a path to full-time employment by combining skills training, formal education and internships.

The Metro Transit Technician Program launched in late-2015 as a partnership between Bus Maintenance, the Office of Equal Opportunity and the Amalgamated Transit Union 1005. Currently, 24 young people are completing internships and earning associate degrees that will put them in a position to apply for full-time jobs at Metro Transit.

Shortly before retiring, Homan spoke with the group about his own career, telling them that “from now on, you’re going to be learning until the day you retire.”

For Homan, that day has finally arrived. And while he certainly learned a lot along the way, Homan will likely be remembered more for playing the role of teacher.

Ask Homan about the achievements he’s had over his four-decade tenure, though, and you’ll get a characteristically humble response.

“In all my years, it’s never really been about titles but about being able to contribute in a different way,” he said. “And for most part that meant putting great people in place to execute ideas – coming up with a concept and letting them make it a better reality.” 

Jan Homan retires from Metro Transit on April 1, 2016. In retirement, he plans to spend time with his family, including wife Mary, son Sam, and two daughters, and to continue improving his property in northern Minnesota.  Brian Funk, who most recently served as Director of Light Rail Operations, will serve as the next Deputy Chief of Operations-Bus. 


Reflections on Jan Homan’s career

“Jan has grown to be really one of the founding, institutional people in this organization over the last 40 years…Clearly the fingerprints of the improved operations and really the design of the 21st century bus has a lot to do with Jan Homan’s direct involvement and engagement. Beyond that it’s really the way Jan’s engaged people to be the best they possibly can. In the old school, it was more punitive, that you have to do this. Jan’s approach is much more human, which is 'We can do this together.' And I think that’s something that will live beyond Jan’s reign here at Metro Transit and is hallmark of how we want to do business here in the future.” – Brian Lamb, General Manager

“Jan has always let you know what his expectations are, but he also brings you along. He’s been a very good coach over the years…has always liked to bring people along He looks for the good in people, and really brings out the best in them. – Rob Milleson, Director-Bus Maintenance

“He has got the biggest hands I’ve ever seen – strong, rugged hands. I think people follow him because of that. He takes their hand and they are just going.” – Wanda Kirkpatrick, Director-Office of Equal Opportunity

“I consider him to be a quiet leader. If you think of Gandhi, that saying some leaders lead from in front and some lead from behind…He has taken on that responsibility and that role of leadership quite well. And he doesn’t wield it or anything. He’s just very gentle with it, but he gets his point across.” – Marilyn Porter, Director-Engineering & Facilities

“The first time he came into my office to get acquainted – and he’s a very tall gentleman – he sat down at table and he tried to make himself more my height. He stuck his legs out a little, moved to the side. And I think he did that for a purpose – to be more even with me, to speak with me at my level. I think it’s very telling. He’s very respectful and wants everyone he encounters – whether it’s a cleaner, a mechanic, a bus operator a manager, a supervisor a director – to be comfortable around him.” – Christy Bailly, Director-Bus Transportation


Jan Homan’s Career At a Glance

  • > December 1975 – Cleaner-Shingle Creek Garage (now the Martin J. Ruter Garage)
  • > November 1976 – Mechanic-old Northside Garage
  • > March 1978 – Senior Mechanic-old Snelling Garage
  • > November 1979 – Foreman-Nicollet Garage
  • > June 1985 – Foreman-Overhaul Base
  • > June 1992 – Maintenance Manager-Heywood Garage
  • > October 1998 – Manager of Maintenance Administration
  • > December 2000 – Director-Bus Maintenance
  • > March 2013 – Deputy Chief of Operations-Bus
Retro Transit Transit Information

The bus stops here 

Posted by Drew Kerr | Tuesday, March 03, 2015 3:43:00 PM

When Sheila Miller began working as a bus operator in 1977, she thought it would be a temporary stay that would hold her over as she decided on a career path. When she discovered she liked the job, the short-term plan turned into a 20-year tenure behind the wheel.                                   

But driving did eventually take her down a different path. Seeking a change of pace, Miller was among several operators who applied to become Metro Transit’s first Bus Stop Coordinator. To her pleasant surprise, she got the job.                   

“It was the only other job I looked at and the only other job I applied for so it was probably meant to be,” said Miller, who began as coordinator in March 1997.

As coordinator, Miller was tasked with organizing and maintaining a list of the region’s sprawling bus stop network. At the time, the sporadically-installed original red T-signs were being replaced and more signs were going up throughout the region.

Without a standard distance between stops, signs went up at virtually every intersection. Because of poor records and tight spacing, Miller inherited a list of nearly 22,000 bus stops. As records were updated and new stop spacing standards took effect, the list was pruned to around 14,500 stops.

But the work didn’t end there. Quarterly service changes, new routes, temporary detours and other issues continually cause bus stops to be added, re-located or eliminated.

Miller updates the bus stop inventory on a weekly basis so customers and staff have access to the latest information. Accurate, real-time bus stop information is also critical to the systems that support NexTrip and the Interactive Map.

“There is a surprising amount of work in a given day,” said Miller, who co-workers jokingly nicknamed the Bus Stop Queen, a title she embraces. “It’s this massive jigsaw puzzle.”

Kristin Thompson, Assistant Director, Scheduling, Analysis and Data Collection, said the job is unique in the industry. But Miller’s work provides the critical link between planners and customers, she said.                                                    

“It really all starts with the bus stop,” Thompson said. “When you get down to the core, you can’t give customers any information without having accurate stop information."

Although she’s spent almost two decades working with bus stops, Miller claims not to have a particular favorite. But she does use her past experiences as a driver and her current experiences as a customer make her a strong advocate for those who use them. As a former driver, Miller has also been particularly adamant about providing operators access to restrooms when possible.

“My familiarity with bus stops was a huge advantage,” Miller said. “I could rely on my innate knowledge.”

Miller is now sharing that knowledge with her successor. In mid-March, she will retire with 38 years of service.

While she will miss the job and the people she works with, Miller is looking forward to spending more time supporting her favorite causes and with her many grandchildren and great grandchildren.

“It’s (working at Metro Transit) become my life,” she said. “I have a big family, but this has always been my other family.”

METRO Green Line Minneapolis Retro Transit St. Paul

Rail returns to the Central Corridor 

| Wednesday, June 11, 2014 3:50:00 PM

Aaron Isaacs worked at Metro Transit from 1973 to 2006. A historian with the Minnesota Streetcar Museum, Isaacs is the co-author of Twin Cities by Trolley and author of Twin Ports by Trolley, which will be released in September. Isaacs also edits Twin City Lines, a quarterly magazine about Twin Cities transit history.

For 63 years, streetcars rolled down University Avenue connecting Minneapolis and St. Paul. When the METRO Green Line opens this weekend, 60 years after the last streetcar made its way through the corridor, the Twin Cities' premier transit corridor will once again have the rail transit it deserves.

The history of rail service in the University Avenue corridor is long and rich.

In the 1880s, special railroad passenger trains operated by Great Northern, Milwaukee Road and Minneapolis & St. Louis ran every hour between the cities, stopping at stations every mile or so. Several of these stations were linked to residential areas such as Merriam Park, Macalester Park, Desnoyer Park, St. Anthony Park and Prospect Park. These neighborhoods featured curving streets, hills and parks designed to offer the latest in suburban living, despite being inside the city limits.

At the time, street railroads were in their infancy. Horse cars provided trips from the downtowns, but managed just five miles per hour and traveled only as far as Dale Street in St. Paul and Seven Corners in Minneapolis.

All that changed when electric streetcars became commercially viable in 1888. Although they were two separate corporations, the St. Paul City Railway and the Minneapolis Street Railway were both owned by a group headed by Thomas Lowry. Both companies immediately began converting horse cars to electricity.

Connecting Minneapolis and St. Paul was a high priority and was accomplished in December 1890. The new line was dubbed The Interurban and followed the same basic route as the new Green Line, differing only in the downtown areas.

It took just three years for the electric streetcars to put the competing short line railroad trains out of business. The streetcars were more frequent, charged a lower fare, stopped closer to where people wanted to go and didn’t have any of the smoke, soot or hot cinders that singed clothing and got in people's eyes.

After The Interurban was built, University Avenue went from a largely undeveloped corridor to an economic powerhouse with a mix of manufacturing, retail, hospitals, offices, entertainment and plenty of residential development.

Along the corridor, the University of Minnesota shifted towards Washington Avenue, Ford Motor Co. and International Harvester opened assembly plants and Montgomery Ward opened its department store and regional distribution center east of Snelling Avenue. Twin City Rapid Transit, the company Lowry created in combining the St. Paul and Minneapolis streetcar businesses, employed several hundred people at its Snelling Station and shop.

Add to that the State Capitol, Lexington ballpark, Memorial Stadium, the two downtowns and connections to 47 other streetcars lines plus some buses and it's easy to see why the Interurban became the busiest streetcar line in the Twin Cities. Streetcars were running every few minutes during rush hour and every five minutes during the rest of the day.

Buses fully replaced streetcars on University Avenue in 1953, but they ran side-by-side on for 35 years. Bus technology was new and for a while unregulated. Bus service began on University Avenue in 1918, running in direct competition with the streetcars.

The limited-stop bus service on University Avenue continued until the 1970s, when express service began on Interstate 94. As Route 16 grew to become the single most popular east-west route in the Twin Cities, limited-stop service returned in 1998 with the introduction of Route 50. Route 50 is now being replaced with rail service, bringing the history of transit on University Avenue full circle.


Central Corridor History At a Glance

+ Dec. 9, 1890 – The first Interurban electric streetcar line begins service between downtown Minneapolis and St. Paul.

+ Aug. 1, 1891 – Interurban streetcars are equipped with mailboxes, allowing residents to deposit mail without boarding. The postal service continues until 1910.

+ Oct. 31, 1953 – Interurban streetcar service ends in St. Paul.

+ Nov. 28, 1953 – Interurban service ends in Minneapolis. Non-revenue trips continue to Snelling Avenue through June 1954, when streetcars disappear entirely from the Twin Cities.

+ June 15, 1998 – Limited-stop bus service returns to University Avenue with the introduction of Route 50.

+ June 28, 2006 – The Metropolitan Council selects light-rail on University Avenue as the “Locally Preferred Alternative” for the Central Corridor following several years of study and public input.

+ Dec. 14, 2006 – The Federal Transit Administration gives approval to begin preliminary engineering on the Central Corridor.

+ Sept. 7, 2010 – Heavy construction begins on Robert Street between University Avenue and 12th Street.

+ April 26, 2011 – A full-funding grant agreement is signed, committing $478 million in federal funding for light-rail construction.

+ July 14, 2011 – First rail line is delivered and placed on Robert Street. 

+ May 14, 2012 – Light-rail construction reaches the halfway mark, on schedule.

+ Sept. 5, 2012 – METRO Green Line tracks are welded together with Blue Line tracks between the Metrodome and Cedar-Riverside stations.      

+ Oct. 10, 2012 – The first light-rail vehicle built for service on the Green Line debuts in Minneapolis.

+ Dec. 7, 2012 – The restored Union Depot re-opens in Lowertown St. Paul. A light-rail station north of the restored passenger rail building will serve as the Green Line's eastern terminus.

+ July 25, 2013 – The first light-rail vehicle to operate under its own power on Green Line tracks makes its inaugural run.

+ May 17, 2014 – Target Field Station opens in Minneapolis, providing another light-rail platform and public space at the Green Line's western terminus.          

+ June 14, 2014 – The METRO Green Line opens for revenue service with celebrations at nine stations and free bus and train rides throughout the weekend.

 


  > MPR: Everything old is new again: Trolley motorman rides the new light rail line


    > MinnPost: A timeline of the Green Line

    > Pioneer Press: St. Paul’s light rail evokes city’s bygone streetcar era

    > The Line: Beyond the Rails: Mapping the development, cultural and community impact of the new Green Line

    > Route 50: Limited stops for longer rides

    > Route 16: The original Minneapolis-St. Paul connection

    > Green Line Project Timeline

    > Minnesota Streetcar Museum


Photos: Top Right: Isaacs at the Green Line's Raymond Avenue Station, near one of the original streetcar buildings; middle left: construction workers install embedded tracks at Union Depot Station in St. Paul, courtesy Steve Glischinski, TRAINS Magazine; below right: an Interurban streetcar on University Avenue circa 1950, looking west from Chatsowrth Street; Blue and Green line tracks welded together in Minneapolis; Green Line test train in Prospect Park.

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