Transportation notebook

Some good news for Central Corridor LRT

Amid worries over the growing cost of the Central Corridor Light Rail Transit (LRT) some officials estimate it at $1.25 billion the Metropolitan Council was pleased to find that the reconstruction of University Avenue should cost $24 million to $27 million less than expected. A new report concluded that the reconstruction would take less time and have less of an impact on surrounding neighbors. Rather than putting in a whole new street, workers will only need to resurface the road and replace curbs, gutters and sidewalks.

The Council is also looking at the possibility of adding seven new traffic signals and taking one signal off of University Avenue. The signals, which would be placed one-quarter mile apart, would help pedestrians and bikers cross the street and help direct traffic, as intersections along University Avenue that dont have signals will be closed once the LRT goes in.

The 11-mile corridor, which wouldnt be open until 2014, would connect downtown Minneapolis with downtown St. Paul along University and Washington Avenues. It would include 16 stations, in addition to five stops shared with the Hiawatha LRT. Currently, workers are in the preliminary engineering phase, which will last until 2009.

City to study possible rail line from Minneapolis to Duluth

On Feb. 1, City Council entered into a joint powers agreement with regional railroad authorities of Anoka, Isanti, Hennepin, Pine, St. Louis-Lake counties, Duluth, Minn. and Douglas County, Wisc. to study the possibility of creating a passenger rail line between Downtown Minneapolis and
Duluth.

The 150-mile corridor would use the current tracks owned by the Burlington Northern Sante Fe Railway Company, which havent been used since in 1985. The Northstar Commuter Rail which is currently under construction and would travel to Big Lake, Minn. would share the corridor with the proposed Duluth line.

Suggested station locations for the railway include Downtown Minneapolis, Coon Rapids, Cambridge, Hinkley, Superior and Duluth. According to city documents, an estimated 800,000900,000 people would use the line each year.

The study would examine three options based on price and train speed: a 79-mph corridor for $75 million to $219 million; a 110-mph corridor for $350 million; and a 125-mph corridor for $750 million. Funding sources have yet to be determined. Once the joint powers agreement is finalized, the project will move into the Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement phase, which will take two years to complete.

Contact Mary ORegan at [email protected]