The Metropolitan Council has revealed its preferred route for the extension of the Blue Line light rail to connect downtown Minneapolis with Brooklyn Park.
On Monday, the council released a map showing the route it will endorse for the 13-mile extension of the Blue Line from Target Field, which will ultimately connect Brooklyn Park in the north of the metro to Bloomington in the south.
The original plans for the extension of the Blue Line would have seen light rail trains run alongside BNSF freight trains in the Bottineau Corridor, but despite years of negotiations with the company, metro leaders were unable to come to an agreement to place the new line near BNSF tracks.
As a result, the original route that would have included Hwy. 55 Olson Memorial Highway, a stop in Golden Valley, and which would have missed the most densely populated areas of North Minneapolis has been shifted further east, removing the Hwy. 55 section and the Golden Valley stop.
The preferred route will see the line run from Target Field along North 7th Street, and from there onto Lyndale Avenue North. The line will then split onto West Broadway Avenue and North 21st Avenue, rejoining a short distance later on West Broadway Avenue and staying on this street until it becomes Bottineau Boulevard in Robbinsdale.
From there it will travel north-northwest through Crystal and Brooklyn Park, shifting onto West Broadway Avenue, crossing over Hwy. 610 and finishing at Oak Grove Parkway, near to the Target northern campus.
There will be stops at Plymouth Avenue North and Lyndale, Emerson-Fremont Avenue, Penn Avenue and West Broadway, North Memorial Hospital, Downtown Robbinsdale, Bass Lake Road in Crystal, 63rd Avenue in Brooklyn Park, and then stops at the Brooklyn Boulevard, 85th Avenue, 93rd Avenue and Oak Grove Parkway intersections with and West Broadway Avenue in Brooklyn Park.
Taking a route through the heart of North Minneapolis will provide more transit options for lower income residents of the city, with council saying it represents "a generational and unprecedented transit investment in a corridor that has experienced a history of systemic racism and high percentage of zero-car households."
“The new proposed route for the Blue Line Extension Light Rail project will bring transformational benefits to residents from Minneapolis to Brooklyn Park,” said Irene Fernando, Hennepin County District 2 Commissioner and chair of the Regional Railroad Authority.
“The communities served by the proposed route are transit-reliant and racially diverse and have experienced historical disinvestment. The proposed route will connect students to education, workers to jobs, patients to healthcare, and families to resources, while connecting the corridor to the broader transit network. This project will ignite economic development for small businesses, result in more affordable housing options, increase access to educational opportunities, and build wealth for working families."
The council has found itself under scrutiny in recent months because of the controversy relating to the Southwest Light Rail extension of the Green Line between Target Field and Eden Prairie.
The route for this avoids some of the more populated areas of southwest Minneapolis in favor of a route that goes via Cedar Lake. The project has since been beset by construction and logistical problems that has seen the cost of the project balloon, prompting the Legislature to pass bills that will require an audit of the project.
A series of meetings will be held over the coming month to discuss the Blue Line extension. Details can be found here.