White House fast-tracks Southwest Light Rail Transit line - FOX 35 News Orlando

White House fast-tracks Southwest Light Rail Transit line

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President Barack Obama announced Monday the Southwest Light Rail Transit project in the Twin Cities will be expedited as part of the "We Can't Wait" initiative.

Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton included $25 million in funding for the Southwest Light Rail in his 2012 bonding bill, with $2 million approved by the Legislature. About half of the line's $1.25 billion price tag will be picked up by the federal government.

The Southwest LRT line will connect downtown Minneapolis to Eden Prairie. The project, funded in part by the Federal Transit Administration, adds more than 15 miles of new track, along with new stations and park-and-ride lots in the southwest expansion.

The counties the proposed line would run through have already pledged to pay 40 percent of the remaining cost. That means lawmakers would need to approve the last 10 percent.

The FTA has already given the project the go-ahead to enter preliminary engineering, led by the Metropolitan Council. That phase, scheduled to begin in 2013, will complete 30 percent of the design process, while refining cost estimates, station placement and other plans.

The target date for completing federal permit and review decisions is November of 2014.

The Hennepin County Regional Railroad Authority has scheduled three public hearings in November to gather public comments on the environmental impact statement. The public hearings will each be preceded by an open house.

Nov. 13
4:30 p.m. (4 p.m. Open House)
Hennepin County Government Center
300 S. 6th St., Minneapolis

Nov. 14
6 p.m. (5 p.m. Open House)
St. Louis Park City Hall
5005 Minnetonka Blvd., St. Louis Park

Nov. 29
6 p.m. (5 p.m. Open House)
Eden Prairie City Hall
8080 Mitchell Road, Eden Prairie

Comments can also be submitted by email at swcorridor@co.hennepin.mn.us or by U.S. Mail:
701 Fourth Avenue South, Suite 400
Minneapolis, MN 55415

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