Hennepin County Board and Metropolitan Council adopt revised METRO Blue Line Extension route

June 23, 2022
The approved route modification will allow environmental, design, engineering and anti-displacement activities to continue.

The Hennepin County Board and Metropolitan Council in Minnesota adopted a revised route modification for the METRO Blue Line Extension that will allow project leaders to move forward on the transit project by continuing environmental, design, engineering and anti-displacement activities in preparation for the eventual full funding grant agreement application to the Federal Transit Administration.

The long-planned project originally included utilizing a section track owned by Class 1 freight railroad BNSF. Negotiations stalled and in August 2020, Hennepin County and Metropolitan Council decided to pursue alternatives for the rail extension.

“When I began my tenure as the Metropolitan Council Chair, the METRO Blue Line Extension was different from the route that was adopted today,” said Metropolitan Council Chair Charles Zelle. “When we made the tough decision to move away from the original freight rail aligned route, we quickly realized we had an opportunity to reevaluate not only the route, but also our priorities for the project. I believe the benefits of the new route exceed the original route, from providing needed transit connections in North Minneapolis to serving North Memorial Hospital in Robbinsdale and the growing communities of Crystal and Brooklyn Park. This is a critical transportation investment for our communities and region. With the new route officially recognized I look forward to continuing our conversations with community partners and bringing this project across the finish line.”

Following the decision to re-evaluate route options, project partners took on an 18-month effort to engage the community and use feedback to guide project decisions. Metropolitan Council notes that as the project moves into this next phase, project staff will continue to solicit feedback and communicate with the community to ensure the project delivers maximum benefit.

“I am proud of the work Hennepin County and the Metropolitan Council have done to identify and now adopt the new route for the METRO Blue Line Extension” said Hennepin County District 2 Commissioner and Chair of the Hennepin County Regional Railroad Authority Irene Fernando. “The new proposed route for the Blue Line Extension Light Rail project will bring transformational benefits to residents from Minneapolis to Brooklyn Park, the communities served by the route are transit-reliant and racially diverse and have experienced historical disinvestment. The proposed route will connect students to education, workers to jobs, patients to healthcare, and families to resources, while connecting the corridor to the broader transit network. This project will ignite economic development for small businesses, result in more affordable housing options, increase access to educational opportunities, and build wealth for working families.”

As the project moves forward to the start of construction sometime in 2025, the project anti-displacement efforts will continue. The Anti-displacement Workgroup led by the Metropolitan Council and Hennepin County and facilitated by the University of Minnesota’s Center for Urban and Regional Affairs has been meeting to discuss actionable policies to minimize the potential displacement that may occur due to the project.

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