Southwest Light Rail Transit’s first tracks were anchored to railroad ties in Hopkins on Aug. 12.
Workers installed 1,300 feet of rail to carry Green Line Extension trains arriving and departing the Downtown Hopkins Station. The Metropolitan Council says these are the first rails to be installed for the $2 billion project.
Southwest Light Rail Transit (SWLRT) will be re-branded as the METRO Green Line Extension when passenger service begins in 2023. The line will serve Eden Prairie, Minnetonka, Hopkins, St. Louis Park, and Minneapolis.
Roy Trever, SWLRT/Metro Transit spokesperson, said rails are also being installed in Eden Prairie. That is happening on the new bridge over and alongside Prairie Center Drive between Bachman’s and SouthWest Station.
More rails will be installed in Eden Prairie over the coming months.
Where do the tracks come from?
The project’s 80-foot long rails are manufactured in Pueblo, Colo., at EVRAZ North America’s engineered steel plant. Rails are transported to Kansas City, where they are welded into “rail strings” up to 1,600 feet long by Progress Rail, a railroad infrastructure company.
The longer “rail strings” are transported by rail to SWLRT “laydown” sites along its alignment. Eighty-foot and shorter rails are also delivered from Kansas City by truck.
Does SWLRT still promise future economic growth?
So far, the Met Council says that $1.5 billion of investments have been stimulated by the SWLRT project. Plans for more affordable housing and office buildings as well as manufacturing, retail, medical and service sectors are in the works.
A May 13 Met Council news release said that 50 percent of the project’s construction is complete, with 11 of its 16 stations under construction or nearly done.
“Moments like these affirm my belief in transit and the communities it serves,” Metropolitan Council Chair Charlie Zelle said of the first track installation in Hopkins.
“Southwest LRT will positively change lives by providing easier access to housing, education and healthcare,” he said. “These first several feet of LRT track represent something bigger than just a light rail line. They represent our communities, our region, and our state coming together and committing to improve the lives of neighbors and ourselves. I am immensely proud of this project and the people who have made it happen.”
Visit Southwest Light Rail’s website for more information, passenger station plans and videos.
For general questions or comments, contact Community Outreach Coordinator James Mockovciak by phone at (612) 373-3894 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org