The official name of Minnesota’s biggest public works project has been changed from Southwest Light Rail to Metro Green Line Extension.
Out with “SWLRT” and in with “MGLE” or “GLE.”
The rebranding may be difficult to adapt to, but future light rail riders, news media and cynics have nearly five years to get used to it. Metro Green Line Extension trains will likely not carry passengers until 2027.
LRT project websites (see above) implicitly suggest that the handles “Southwest Light Rail” and “SWLRT” still have life. But a Metro Transit spokesperson wrote to Eden Prairie Local News that “Green Line Extension” is being used internally among staff.
The new brand was employed during a series of virtual town hall meetings in March for residents of Eden Prairie, Minneapolis, St. Louis Park, Hopkins and Minnetonka. The meetings were recorded and can be viewed here.
During the March 10 Eden Prairie town hall meeting, Metro Green Line Extension’s James Mockovciak said that 62% of the civil (heavy) construction work along the 14.5-mile light rail project has been completed.
Speaking to less than a handful of virtual participants, including State Sen. Steve Cwodzinski, Mockovciak said that heavy construction in Eden Prairie is winding down. “Systems” work phases in as the heavy construction is completed in different sections along the line. Then, when the power substations and safety and security technology and catenary towers/overhead power lines are ready, testing with the trains begins. That’s a few years from now, but systems work, said Mockovciak, “won’t be anywhere near as onerous, disturbing, or even as visible as the civil work.”
Most of the work on Eden Prairie’s five LRT bridges that span Prairie Center Drive, Interstate 494, Valley View Road, Nine Mile Creek/Flying Cloud Drive and Highway 212/Shady Oak Road will be unseen as crews finish the deck, track and detail work. Track laying will continue between Valley View Road, the Golden Triangle, and City West stations. Foundations for traction power substations will also be constructed.
The light rail tunnel under Highway 62 that connects City West Station to the Opus Station in Minnetonka is completed. The highway alignment was restored last autumn.
Mockovciak also noted that Eden Lane has been restored near Redstone American Grill. At its bend around Champps restaurant, a new street, Town Center Place, has been laid past the iconic Eden Prairie water tower and behind Bowlero. It has passenger drop-off and pick-up lanes at the new station. Decorative safety fencing in the area will soon be installed.
The new, permanent SouthWest Station bus loading and off-loading area is slated to open in December. The temporary passenger shelter will be shut down.
2022 Road and lane closures begin in April but will be fewer
In Eden Prairie:
- West 70th Street near Golden Triangle Station: Track installation over the road will close West 70th Street beginning in April for 8- 10 weeks. Access to all West 70th businesses will be via Shady Oak Road.
- Highway 212: Overnight lane closures may be needed for track work on the light rail bridge that crosses the highway near Shady Oak Road.
- The eastbound Highway 212 off-ramp to Prairie Center Drive at SouthWest Station may again have lane closures. Ground settling in the area needs to be stabilized.
- Technology Drive will be closed near its intersection with Flying Cloud Drive in late April for two weeks for track and road work.
- Viking Drive or some of its lanes will be closed near their intersection with Flying Cloud Drive. LRT tracks need to be raised approximately one inch — work dates to be determined.
- Bren Road West near Green Circle Drive will close in early or mid-April for one week to complete track work.
- Red Circle Drive near the LRT tunnel will be subject to two months of traffic delays in April when a duct bank under the road is installed. Part of Red Circle drive remains closed to westbound traffic.
- Green Circle Drive will be closed in mid-to-late April for two weeks near Bren Road for road construction.
- Feltl Road remains closed at Smetana Road through the summer.
For more information
Questions or concerns about the Metro Green Line Extension should be addressed to the project’s community outreach coordinators. If they don’t have the answers, they’ll connect you to someone who does.
James Mockovciak, the coordinator for Eden Prairie and Minnetonka residents can be reached at 612-373-3894 or James.Mockovciak@metrotransit.org.
Nkongo Cigolo, the coordinator for Hopkins, St. Louis Park and Edina residents, is reachable at 612-373-3825 or Nkongo.Cigolo@metrotransit.org.
David Davies fields questions for Minneapolitans at 612-373-5336 or David.Davies@metrotransit.org.
Project staff members are also holding monthly virtual open office hours for residents living within or near the Kenilworth Corridor between Lake Street and Interstate 394. The problematic tunnel, which will delay the beginning of passenger service to 2027, is located in the corridor’s “pinch point,” a bit north of Lake Street.
Several of the Metro Green Line Extension oversight committees hold virtual meetings that can be monitored online as they happen or viewed a few days later on-demand. The meetings usually include downloadable agendas, videos and informational materials. Meeting dates and materials can be found here.
Knowledgable speakers about light rail construction and issues can be arranged for community meetings or other events by contacting Sophia Ginis, public involvement manager, at 612-373-3853 or email@example.com.
Construction site tours return in 2022
The project will again host escorted walking tours of construction sites, including stations, tunnels and bridges. Mockovciak anticipates that at least three escorted walking tours will be held in each of the project’s cities in May, July and September.
Check the project website or the Eden Prairie Local News Calendar for dates.
Editor’s note: Writer Jeff Strate is also a member of the EPLN Board and has served on the SWLRT Community Advisory Committee.