What Do You Know About the Metro's Light Rail Projects?

A look at the details for the four light rail projects closest to completion.

Whether you like it or not, light rail is the talk of the metro at the moment.

Businesses along the Central Corridor have another year of construction to look forward to.

St. Louis Park residents are protesting the proposed relocation of freight rail in respone to the Southwest Transitway project as supporters continue to seek the necessary funding.

In Golden Valley, residents are waiting to see what their City Council will do when it comes to supporting a resolution that would send a light rail train through their community. Many Golden Valley residents urged the City Council to vote no on the resolution that would allow more studies to be conducted about the Bottineau Transitway’s locally preferred alternative (LPA).

Meanwhile, the Hiawatha line continues to carry riders between the Mall of America and Minneapolis’ downtown.

In all, the Metropolitan Council’s transit plan envisions four light rail lines by 2030.

With so many miles of track on the table, keeping tabs on the details can be daunting. To make it a little easier, Patch has collected all the specifics in one place.  

The table below contains information on cost, ridership, length and more for the four lines closest to completion. We’d love to hear what you think about each line.

Which ones do you think you’ll use? How do you think they’ll affect the corridors through which they travel? Which ones make sense? Take a look at the details and then share your thoughts in the comments below.

(Details for projects in the planning stages are subject to change before they're finished.)


Hiawatha Central Southwest Bottineau

LPA Co-locate LPA Alternate Build cost $715 million
$957 million
$1.195 billion $1.072 billion

 $1 billion

$1.09 billion

Annual Operating cost

$18.7 million✝ $21 million $25.4 million
$25.4 million $22.4 to $24.1 million $23.7 million to $25.1 million Build Start 2001 2010 2015 to 2017
2015 to 2017
See Sources
Operations Start 2004 2014 2018 2018 See Sources
Length 12 miles 11 miles 16.4 miles
16.4 miles
About 13 miles
About 13 miles
Number of Stations 19*** 23*** 18* 18* 12
Cities on the line Minneapolis Minneapolis, St. Paul Eden Prairie, Minnetonka, Hopkins, St. Louis Park, Minneapolis
Same as the LPA
Minneapolis, Golden Valley, Robbinsdale, Crystal, and Brooklyn Park Minneapolis,  Robbinsdale, Crystal, and Brooklyn Park Expected weekday ridership 31,333 January through October 2012
More than 40,000 by 2030
28,700 by 2030
28,700 by 2030 27,600 (A-C-D1) or 27,000 (B-C-D1) by 2030
27,200 (A-C-D2) or 26,000 (B-C-D2) by 2030
Number of properties acquired
0 132 125 175 0
Properties with severe residential impacts from noise N/A
0ǂ 201 267 384 277**



* Includes the Target Field station.

** Does not include 123 assumed property aquisitions on Penn Avenue.

*** Includes five stations in downtown Minneapolis shared between the Hiawatha Line and the Central Corridor.

✝ Data from 2006.

ǂ During the preliminary engineering and final design process, engineers found ways to mitigate numerous noise issues identified by community members and the project's environmental impact assessment process.

Elaine Wynne December 13, 2012 at 02:25 PM
Incorrect information int the article. The truth is if the City Council voted No the DEIS (Draft Environmental Impact Statement) would CONTINUE and would be completed by next summer. Then, if it passed muster, a Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) would start. They could say No, look at a better route and nothing would stop about D1.
Elaine Wynne December 13, 2012 at 02:29 PM
A Bottineau route that ran down Highway 100 would effectively serve Robbinsdale and Golden Valley. Hybrid and electric busses could bring more of Robbinsdale and North Mpls. east of 100 to ridership. Hgy. 55 stops could again give access to North Mpls. riders. One argument for the D1 location is that other routes have low ridership. This could have higher ridership that other LR routes in the metro.
Valerie Engler December 13, 2012 at 02:31 PM
Hi, Elaine! Yes, the DEIS would continue, we don't dispute that. However, the upcoming resolution of support would send the project into the preliminary engineering phase with a focus on the LPA, which sends the light rail through Golden Valley.
Elaine Wynne December 13, 2012 at 02:35 PM
It is said Honeywell favors the route and so we must vote yes to D1 before January 31 when the Federal regulations stop assessing business benefits of the light rail as an asset, (after Jan. 31 the criteria will only be cost and ridership.) A route down hwy. 100 would be a slam dunk for most Honeywell employees. Stops at GV road or by the Chalet are unlikely to be heavily used by Honeywell employees. It is said the Courage Center likes the light rail because it helps their clients be independent in using public transportation. A stop at the Chalet and a stop at GV Road and 100 are about the same distance away from Courgae Ctr. without the hills to climb.
Elaine Wynne December 13, 2012 at 02:44 PM
Taking time to look at the Hwy. 100 alternative would benefit us more, whether we are using the before Jan. 31 rules (it should benefit development in an area) or whether we are using the after Jan. 31 rules (which favor higher # of ridership and cost). A route down 100 from 281 would increase ridership and save the park. Destroying wetlands and trees increases CO2. We need to balance that added cost against the final bill for the light rail route against those old railroad tracks which are going to have to be dug up and realligned. The cost of that will not be cheap. Also when we are looking at supporting business to satisfy the regulations for light rail, the shopping area at Hgy. 100 and Golden Valley would be enhanced by a light rail stop and there are places to locate parking.
Karen Lehman December 13, 2012 at 07:15 PM
I agree that we need to look beyond both the D1 and D2 alternatives. D2 would have significant impact on North Minneapolis. Penn Avenue is too narrow, and over 100 houses would need to come down. In Golden Valley, nature is the big loser, although housing will also be affected. While the number of properties acquired for Golden Valley would be zero, the number of houses affected (including mine) is not insignificant, and their values will go down. There is probably a win-win for people and the environment on the line Elaine suggests, and perhaps others. Why not hold the line and encourage the Met Council and others to explore it? Highway 100 is already a thoroughfare.
Elaine Wynne December 14, 2012 at 12:49 AM
Turn out for the Dec. 18 vote. Come at 6:15. We can each make a brief statement. Bring other people and bring petitions for people who want another route looked at. I think it's okay to do a simultaneous visit to the Met Council but I think we need to tend to Golden Valley. They could vote "no" and ask for another route.
Tim December 14, 2012 at 02:24 AM
How about the most logical alternative- take the line down the old street car route via Emerson and Fremont- which were wide streets- to West Broadway- to Robbinsdale.
Candace Oathout December 16, 2012 at 06:32 PM
The reporter posed a very interesting question regarding which LRT line people will use. In the case of many who live in the affordable areas of Crystal, Robbinsdale and Hopkins the answer is none of them since they are commuting to workplaces in Plymouth, Edina and Bloomington. We hear lots of rhetoric about the convenience and efficiency of LRT but that is of no importance if a person can not even get close to their destination via LRT.
J. M Johnson March 01, 2013 at 03:50 AM
LRT most liely never will connect Robbinsdale and Crystal to Edina and Plymouth. Rather, it is meant to re-develop downtowns Robbinsdale and Crystal and develop further the Maple Grove shopping complex and the Target complex in Brooklyn Park. Edina and Plymouth acticity center growth stagnates and Brooklyn Park/Maple Grove boom with workers railing in from higher density urban oasies surrounding LRT stations all over the network. Or so the story goes.


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