Metropolitan Council and Hennepin County Introduce New Blue Line Extension LRT Route Options
Minneapolis, Minn. – March 11, 2021 – Today, the Metropolitan Council and Hennepin County released revised potential route options for the proposed METRO Blue Line Extension which will connect communities from Downtown Minneapolis northwest to Brooklyn Park. The routes represent technical and community discussions over several months since project partners announced a new direction for the project last August. Partners believe they present the best opportunities to deliver a light rail project that maximizes community benefits and connects even more people to jobs, education, healthcare and other key destinations.
These route options provide an opportunity to advance a conversation many years in the making with the goal of identifying a single community-supported route by the end of this year to advance through official design and environmental review processes.
“The routes released today are a big step forward for the Blue Line Extension Project,” said Met Council Chair Charles 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. We need community input from all our neighbors and businesses, because while these new routes begin the discussion, there will be more questions than answers at this early stage. 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.
Last fall, project partners worked together with stakeholders and community and business members to create a set of project principles to guide project work and engagement, including:
- 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
View the full Project Principles.
Project leaders believe the revised route options meet those goals and are supported by our engagement conversations thus far. Presenting these possible options is a next step in a larger process of choosing a revised route and implementing a project that benefits corridor communities and the region.
“As a Hennepin County Commissioner and North Minneapolis resident, I’m excited for the transformational benefits light rail will bring to our communities. 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 jobs. 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,” said Irene Fernando, Hennepin County District 2 Commissioner and chair of the Regional Railroad Authority.
As project work continues, a new phase of engagement will kick off in the coming weeks. Project partners will work closely with community consultants to support engagement efforts with a focus on collecting community and business leaders input on the new route options, as well as potential community and economic development strategies and initiatives.
Project leaders want to hear from the community about the new routes, potential station locations, important destinations and what they want to see from their transit system. Project staff will be performing outreach work in several different ways:
- Virtual town hall meetings are scheduled for Thursday, March 25 and Tuesday, March 30 for community members to learn more, ask questions and provide feedback on the project.
- A community survey is available on the project website for community members wanting to give feedback on the initial route options by April 30.
- Project staff are available to provide presentations to community and business groups.
- Submit general project comments.
- Follow the project on social media: Facebook and Twitter.
To learn about upcoming community town hall meetings, additional outreach efforts and to keep informed about upcoming Blue Line Extension project announcements, please visit the project website at www.BlueLineExt.org.