Repair work to the LRT tracks in the heart of downtown Minneapolis was completed in time for Monday morning’s commute.
Crews and contractors ran trains over the new track Sunday afternoon, testing them first at a walking pace and then at normal operating speeds.
The test runs went smoothly, Metro Transit officials said, and regular commuter service on the Blue and Green Line trains resumed at 5 a.m..
“Green and Blue lines share those downtown stations, so they get double duty,” said Howie Padilla, spokesman for Metro Transit. “We hope to keep that portion of our system in good shape now for about the next two decades.”
The affected stations were those between Target Field and U.S. Bank Stadium. Since June 22, passengers who normally use those stops have had to walk, bike or ride supplementary buses.
While most riders took the service interruption in stride, others were frustrated and confused, especially as the rail construction coincided with other downtown road repairs as well as a partial shutdown of the Lowry Hill tunnel on Interstate 94.
There have been weekend closures in the 13 to 14 years since the Blue Line tracks were installed, but this is the first time maintenance this major has been performed, Padilla said.
Extra crews were brought in to lay down brand-new track on parts of the route and do preventive maintenance. Those extra hands reduced the $16.7 million project’s duration from a month — a previous estimate — to 11 days, Padilla said.
Nathan Bakken, a Metro Transit intern, directed pedestrians to the substitute buses as the trains completed their trial runs Sunday night.
Padilla said he’s not certain what parts of the system might need repair next, but for now, Metro Transit users and work crews can finally exhale.
“That pain that our commuters and operators went through is going to be worth it,” Padilla said.