A light rail route that bypasses uptown Minneapolis received approval Tuesday from the Hennepin County Regional Railroad Authority.
The county-run planning group voted unanimously to recommend Route 3A to the Metropolitan Council for inclusion in its 2030 Transportation Plan. The group had examined three route options as part of the Southwest Light Rail Transit Project.
The final decision rests both with the Federal Transit Administration, who will determine whether the program meets funding criteria, and the Met Council, who will vote to approve the final plan.
The recommended route starts in Eden Prairie and runs east to Eden Prairie Town Center. The rail line then moves north through Hopkins and St. Louis Park before reaching Minneapolis.
The line heads northeast, passing between Cedar Lake and Lake of the Isles, before connecting with the Northstar Commuter Rail near downtown Minneapolis.
Another proposed route would have gone through uptown Minneapolis, running close to Lake Street, and stopping at Hennepin and Lyndale Avenues.
"This was an open process, with rigorous debate worthy of a project of this magnitude," said Hennepin County Commissioner Gail Dorfman in a statement. "After extensive discussion with the community and our partners, we have come to a consensus, and I am excited to move forward."
The Southwest Light Rail Transit Project recently received $5 million in state bonding allocated by the Met Council for transit improvements. The bonding funds will be used for preliminary engineering and environmental work, according to the statement.