FTA approves early stages of southwest metro Light Rail Transit 06 Sep 11

A new light rail line between the southwest metro and downtown Minneapolis may soon be more than just an idea.

The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) has granted approval to begin preliminary engineering on the region’s third light-rail transit project, the Southwest Corridor.

FTA approval represents a significant step toward winning federal matching funds and building the 15-mile LRT line between downtown Minneapolis and Eden Prairie. Projected ridership on the corridor is nearly 30,000 riders each weekday by 2030, comparable to current ridership on Hiawatha LRT.

The preliminary engineering process will take about two years, but if the project receives FTA approval to enter final design and obtains federal funding, construction of the line could begin in 2014 and operations in late 2017.