The Hiawatha light rail line is now complete.
With the opening this week of one last stop in Bloomington -- the America Boulevard Station at 34th Avenue, which opens to riders on Saturday -- all of the planned stops are now in place.
The station was dedicated Wednesday with the cutting of a banner and a reception for construction workers, who finished work on it more than a month ahead of their January deadline.
The $3.3 million station was included in the original plans for the light rail line, but its construction was deferred when the south end of the 12-mile route was redesigned, said Bob Gibbons, director of customer services for Metro Transit. Money to build the new station came from the Bloomington Port Authority, Hennepin County, Metropolitan Council and the federal government.
The new station is northeast of the Mall of America and a short distance from Bloomington Central Station. Three hotels, an office complex and large long-term parking lots are located nearby. The area, which is called Airport South, is slated for redevelopment, and Bloomington officials view the new station as a key component to those plans.
"It serves a section of the Airport South district that we hope will become part of a new residential neighborhood," said Larry Lee, director of community development for the city. "It's especially important for residents, but ... tourists and business people [also] have the option of getting around by LRT instead of riding in a car."
That vision of a community built around transit is already a reality at the Reflections condo development by Bloomington Central Station, Lee said. Many couples who bought homes there have gone from two cars to one and some are living with no car at all, he said.
The new American Boulevard station is the only one of the Hiawatha line's 19 stations to have a split platform for north and southbound trains.
Last month, the north end of the line was completed when a new station at Target Field opened. That station also serves as a link for Hiawatha riders to the Northstar commuter rail line.
Mary Jane Smetanka • 612-673-7380