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Test runs getting Green Line trains ready to roll

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Test runs for the Green Line, the second light rail transit line in the Twin Cities, have begun.

MPR News reports that transportation through Central Corridor isn't scheduled to begin until some time in 2014. But test trains on the 11-mile line between downtown Minneapolis and downtown St. Paul have been busy with practice runs. Workers are running the Green Line trains into downtown St. Paul in part to make sure they're adequately powered.

After the first of the year, the first of about 100 workers will begin working at the operations and maintenance facility in St. Paul's Lowertown.

The Metropolitan Council will announce the official opening date on Jan. 22nd. The council has indicated the line will be in service in time for the Major League Baseball All-Star Game at Target Field in July.

The Midway neighborhood in St. Paul that the line will intersect is expected to be rebranded as "Little Africa" to promote it as a dining and shopping area featuring the culture of several African nations.

In October, the Minnesota Daily ran a story about the potential dangers of light rail, noting that the Green Line trains that will cruise through the University of Minnesota campus area take longer to stop than other forms of transportation. The story included concerns that pedestrians wearing headphones would not hear the low-friction trains, which weigh about 300,000 pounds and can't swerve out of the way of a pedestrian. Bringing a train to a complete stop from 55 miles-per-hour takes the length of two football fields. At 20 mph, it takes 81 feet.

Central Corridor project spokeswoman Laura Baenen said the Metropolitan Council has made safety a priority and has included many safety considerations, including creating a pedestrian mall in the area. The project will cost almost a billion dollars.

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