Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz fully backs METRO Blue Line extension

Oct. 12, 2020
The planned extension of Metro Transit’s Blue Line is regrouping after plans for its original alignment fell apart this summer.

Despite the setback this summer of scrapping original alignment plans for a proposed Blue Line extension to serve Minneapolis and its northwestern communities, project stakeholders have a key ally in Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz.

The governor joined members of the METRO Blue Line Extension Light Rail Project's Corridor Management Committee (CMC) on Oct. 8, which is noteworthy as it is the first time a sitting governor of the state has attended a CMC meeting.

The purpose of the meeting was to discuss ongoing development of the project, which aims to extend Metro Transit’s Blue Line approximately 13 miles from Target Field Station northwest to Brooklyn Park.

Project partners including Hennepin County, Brooklyn Park, Crystal, Robbinsdale, Golden Valley, Minneapolis and the Metropolitan Council had been working with freight railroad BNSF to utilize a section of the BNSF-owned right-of-way for the Blue Line extension. Negotiations stalled and the Metropolitan Council and Hennepin County made the decision this summer to explore route alternatives.

The project stakeholders will begin assessing potential alignments for the Blue Line Extension in early 2021 with an eye toward equity, economic development and affordable housing choices.

The CMC advises the Metropolitan Council on issues related to the design and construction of the METRO Blue Line Extension Project. At the meeting, Gov. Walz reiterated his support of the project.

“Our opportunity with the Blue Line Extension allows us to address equity, economic development, sustainable transportation and affordable housing choices that will make a difference in our communities and for our neighbors. With that in mind, it is time for this project to begin writing its next chapter. It is too important for the people served by this line to wait any longer,” Gov. Walz said at the meeting.

The communities the extended Blue Line light-rail project will serve are the most diverse in the metro area and have the highest rates of transit-dependent households, according to the Metropolitan Council.

“The Blue Line Extension is an important piece of this region's transit network," said Metropolitan Council Chair Charles Zelle. “This is a line that will serve chronically underserved communities and transform neighborhoods. It is because of these benefits we can no longer delay this project. I am in total agreement with the governor and look forward to seeing this project to fruition.”

About the Author

Mischa Wanek-Libman | Group Editorial Director

Mischa Wanek-Libman serves as editor in chief of Mass Transit magazine and group editorial director of the Infrastructure and Aviation Group at Endeavor Business Media. She is responsible for developing and maintaining the editorial direction of the group and is based in the western suburbs of Chicago.

Wanek-Libman has spent more than 20 years covering transportation issues including construction projects and engineering challenges for various commuter railroads and transit agencies. She has been recognized for editorial excellence through her individual work, as well as for collaborative content. 

She is an active member of the American Public Transportation Association's Marketing and Communications Committee and serves as a Board Observer on the National Railroad Construction and Maintenance Association (NRC) Board of Directors.  

She is a graduate of Drake University, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism and Mass Communication with a major in magazine journalism and a minor in business management.