Friday, September 18, 2020 9:40:00 AM
From General Manager Wes Kooistra
In a year full of challenges for Metro Transit, we received great news on Sept. 14. The Southwest LRT (Green Line Extension), a vital extension of our transit system, received its Full Funding Grant Agreement (FFGA) from the Federal Transit Administration.
Not only does this bring to our region $929 million in federal funding to match the nearly $1.1 billion dollars in local funding, it is a confirmation of what we, as an organization, have been saying since the project's inception; this project provides critical access and mobility to our region and will contribute to the prosperity of our state well into the future.
In many ways, Southwest LRT (SWLRT) embodies Metro Transit’s core values. When complete, it will unite people and communities, expand and enhance our existing transit infrastructure, and drive development, including affordable housing, along the alignment.
It is estimated by 2035 employment is expected to grow to 80,900 within a half mile of SWLRT stations and 145,300 in downtown Minneapolis. Coupled with the expected 56% population growth along the line, it’s easy to see why this project is so important.
The path of the SWLRT project hasn’t always been easy, but with the hard work and dedication of Metro Transit, county and city staff, we have brought this project one step closer to the finish line.
So, what is this project going to look like going forward? As many of you know, construction began in earnest last year and has ramped up recently. There isn’t a single mile of the 14.5-mile alignment where some sort of construction isn’t occurring. Earth is moving, stations are being built, and tunnels are being dug. This work will continue until the planned service opening sometime in 2023.
This $2 billion project is the largest public works project in the history of Minnesota. The FFGA has been completed and signed, but our work is just beginning. Construction will stretch into the next few years, and it will be important to stay connected and offer your input when you can. The website swlrt.org is a great project resource as well as the construction update the SWLRT staff prepares every week which you can subscribe to on the website.
Finally, I would like to extend my deepest thanks to the Metro Transit staff who have worked tirelessly on this project. Many people’s fingerprints can be found on this project, and I want you to know Metro Transit thanks you for your dedication, expertise, and hard work. Southwest LRT is a shining example of what we can accomplish when we work together and stay true to our values.