Two key improvements included in plans for a new Bus Rapid Transit line on Interstate 35W will be built thanks to a key federal approval.
The Federal Transit Administration’s Letter of No Prejudice allows local funding to be used on a transit-only access ramp between downtown Minneapolis and I-35W (right) and a transit station at I-35W and Lake Street.
The improvements are part of plans for the METRO Orange Line, which will bring frequent, all-day BRT service to several new and existing stations along a 17-mile stretch of I-35W between Marq2 in Minneapolis and downtown Burnsville. Service is scheduled to begin in 2020.
“We’re excited to move forward with our partners on these critical improvements, which will benefit not just future Orange Line customers but thousands of people who travel on I-35W and Lake Street every day,” General Manager Brian Lamb said.
Like the station at I-35W and 46th Street, the Lake Street Station will be located in the middle of the interstate with two levels, an indoor waiting area and other amenities, serving Orange Line, express and local bus customers. The access ramp will allow 700 buses to avoid congestion entering and exiting downtown each weekday.
Efforts to secure full funding for the Orange Line are ongoing but the FTA’s approval is important because it allows the transit ramp and Lake Street Station to be incorporated into state-led construction efforts on I-35W beginning later this year.
Local spending on the ramp and station could later be matched by the federal government, which is being asked to cover half of the Orange Line’s total construction costs.
Learn more about the Orange Line and subscribe to project updates here.