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Met Council: Southwest light rail gets federal green light

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A rider boards a Green Line light rail train.
A rider boards a Green Line light rail train in St. Paul.
Tim Nelson | MPR News

The Metropolitan Council says it has received an important approval from the federal government for funding the Southwest Corridor light rail project. 

Construction on the $2 billion project could begin this winter. With a critical thumbs-up for the project by the Federal Transit Administration, the council is confident that the federal government will subsequently provide $929 million to fund the light rail line.  

Met Council Chair Alene Tchourumoff says they can now award construction bids. A vote to award a contract to the apparent low bidder will be held Thursday.

"Approval from the FTA gives us the ability to begin spending local money on construction and advance the development of Southwest LRT without further delay," Tchourumoff said. "This is a big moment."

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey called the approval a victory for the city in a tweet.

"A commitment to public transit is key to advancing economic justice and building a stronger workforce, responsible climate policy, and access to more affordable housing options," he wrote.

The council says construction of the extension of the Green line between Minneapolis and Eden Prairie is expected to create 7,500 construction jobs with a payroll of $350 million. 

The nearly 15-mile line could open in 2023.  

The council estimates the line will have 34,000 riders on work days.

Virtual tour by the Metropolitan Council