Date set for start of light rail service between downtowns

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After years of work and millions of dollars, light rail service along the 11-mile corridor between Minneapolis and St. Paul is set to begin on Saturday, June 14, Metropolitan Council Chair Susan Haigh announced on Wednesday.

A press release from the Met Council details the opening. The new line will link Union Depot in St. Paul’s Lowertown to the State Capitol complex, Midway, University of Minnesota and Target Field. As the region’s second light rail line, the Green Line will connect to the Blue Line (Hiawatha) at the Downtown East Station in Minneapolis.

The Business Journal reports the line will run from 4 a.m. to about 1 a.m. daily, with service every ten minutes during the day and every 10 to 15 minutes during the evening. A trip between the Nicollet Mall Station in Minneapolis and the Central Station in St. Paul is expected to take about 40 minutes.

The Pioneer Press reports that the Green Line's opening comes after years of intense scrutiny and multiple lawsuits from business owners, the University of Minnesota and Minnesota Public Radio, which were concerned about the impact of construction or track vibrations on their operations. None of the lawsuits were successful in halting construction. Test runs for the trains in downtown St. Paul in December provided a preview of the operation.

The grand opening in June will include the requisite speeches and ribbon cuttings, with festivities planned at new stops. Metro Transit will offer free rides on the Green Line and all other rail and bus routes June 14-15. The opening will come nearly six months earlier than required by the Federal Transit Administration, which is funding half the $957 million project and will allow the line to be in business well in advance of Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game at Target Field in July.

The Met Council release notes that the project created 5,445 construction jobs, and the Green Line will generate 177 permanent operations and maintenance jobs for downtown St. Paul. Several communities along the line in St. Paul plan to use the transit system as a way to attract visitors and spur redevelopment.

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