Met Council, Hennepin County release route options for reworked Blue Line

March 12, 2021
Original plans for the light-rail project were scrapped last August following resistance from a potential freight rail owner, but officials vowed to find an alternative route for the project.

Six months after shelving original plans to build a northwest extension of the Metro Transit METRO Blue Line along BNSF right of way, the Metropolitan Council (Met Council) and Hennepin County have released several options to bring the route from Target Field in Minneapolis, Minn., to the planned Brooklyn Boulevard Station.

The Blue Line route for the final four stations – Brooklyn Boulevard Station, 85th Avenue Station, 93rd Avenue Station and Oak Grove Station – is proposed to run along West Broadway and is expected to remain the same.

Met Council and Hennepin County explain the potential routes grew out of technical and community discussions over several months and serve as a starting point for upcoming conversations. The goal is to identify a single community-supported route by the end of 2021 to advance through official design and review processes.

“The routes released today are a big step forward for the Blue Line Extension Project,” said Met Council Chair Charlie Zelle. “The Blue Line Extension is an important element of the region’s transportation system. While these potential routes are a good first step for seeing this project to completion, much work remains.

The project’s leaders have requested community input on the proposed routes, potential station locations, important destinations and what future riders would want from the system.

“We need community input from all of our neighbors and businesses, because while these routes begin the discussion, there will be more questions than answers at this early stage,” Zelle said. “For me, the biggest measure of project success is community support, and the Met Council is determined to deliver a project the community feels is an investment that directly benefits those who currently live and work in the corridor cities.”

Following the decision to rework the project alignment following resistance from BNSF, project partners worked together with stakeholders and community and business members to create a set of project principles to guide project work and engagement. These principles include:

  • Maintain the existing alignment as much as possible.
  • Engage, inform and consult diverse communities to co-create project solutions that reduce disparities.
  • Complement existing and planned transit investments.
  • Mitigate negative impacts.
  • Meet Federal Transit Administration New Starts criteria.

The project stakeholders believe the new route options meet the goals mapped out by the principles.

“The new direction of the Blue Line Extension is positioned to serve among the most racially and economically diverse communities in Hennepin, while also connecting transit-reliant residents to the broader regional transit system. This will change the trajectory of what’s possible for so many of our neighbors — connecting students to education, patients to healthcare and workers to job,” said Irene Fernando, Hennepin County District 2 commissioner and chair of the Regional Railroad Authority. “To pursue this work equitably, we must also recognize that large-scale public investments can accelerate patterns of residential and economic displacement, and work together to ensure this investment benefits corridor residents, builds community wealth and meaningfully addresses decades-long patterns of disinvestment.”

More information about the proposed line options is available at

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.