The Metro Green Line Extension is about 75% complete, with most progress on the 14.5-mile light-rail transit (LRT) project being on the southwest suburban end, including Eden Prairie.
But, don’t expect any southwest-end, partial opening anytime before the full line between Eden Prairie and Minneapolis is expected to be operational in 2027.
“I know there’s a lot of questions about getting ready for service out in the west before everything’s all done,” Project Manager Jim Alexander told the Eden Prairie City Council in an LRT update Tuesday, Aug. 15. “We just really can’t accommodate that, because the vehicles do need to be serviced on occasion and we have to take them back to Minneapolis and have the logistical ability to do that.”
They do hope to do some train testing in this area in 2025 or 2026 to shorten the time before ridership begins.
“We are actually pretty far along in Eden Prairie with civil (construction) work,” Alexander reported. “We’re going to be essentially complete with civil work by the end of this year. We have some more work to do down at SouthWest Station which you see on Technology Drive. But mostly systems work, which is starting to get well underway, as you see. And of course there’s going to be testing.”
Much of the current construction focus, he added, is on the complicated Kenilworth Tunnel in Minneapolis, which is about 55% complete.
The geographic disparity in progress means nearly completed LRT stations that have been constructed in Eden Prairie and elsewhere in the suburbs will remain fenced, maintained, and monitored even while unused, Alexander said. Eden Prairie will have four LRT stations.
City council members say one of the questions they get from residents is how the Metro Council, which is in charge of building the Metro Transit-operated Green Line Extension, will fill a shortfall in funding that at the end of 2022 was estimated to be $240 million to $340 million.
Mayor Ron Case referenced a $280 million shortfall in the $2.74 billion overall project. “Any recent thoughts on the funding piece of this and confidence that it will work out?” he asked.
“We are confident that we will work it out,” responded Alexander. “We have continued conversations with our primary local funder, Hennepin County, along with the governor’s office. And we’re also talking with the FTA (Federal Transit Administration). So those conversations are ongoing. We will get it solved. It’s just we’re not there yet. But we anticipate we will get there.”
Alexander was also asked to respond to local worries about crime on existing LRT lines and the potential of bringing that to Eden Prairie with the Metro Green Line Extension.
“Safety is front and center on our mind at Metro Transit,” said Alexander. “We do have a new police chief. One of our challenges, though, is finding enough police officers. So we continue with our recruitment process. But there is getting to be more of a (police) presence on the trains. We are hearing the concerns out there, and Metro Transit is responding to that. We hope we can get it to a spot where people feel safe on the train. I know there’ve been issues.”
Alexander said another series of walking tours designed to acquaint the public with Green Line Extension progress firsthand is expected to begin in September. Updates on construction and tours can be found on the Metro Green Line Extension website.
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