But with perhaps a month to go before the Hennepin County Board needs to pull the trigger on the project, it still has a funding shortfall of $30 million. That gap soon may be narrowed — for instance, the Senate’s bonding bill includes $5 million for the Interchange, and other possible sources are being mined — but the county may have to agree to backstop funding so that the project can be finished before Central Corridor trains arrive in 2014.
SOUTHWEST LIGHT RAIL
It’s been a rocky winter for the Southwest Corridor, the next big-ticket transitway planned for the metro area’s light-rail system.
The proposed link to the southwest suburbs is expected to cost $1.25 billion, with the federal government paying for half. Twin Cities counties would pick up 40 percent, and the state would kick in $125 million.
Outside of Gov. Mark Dayton’s public works plan, which includes $25 million for engineering work, there hasn’t been much enthusiasm at the Capitol to fund the project. The House transportation committee left it off of its funding list, and it was nowhere to be found in the Senate’s bonding bill last week.
Dayton himself expressed concern when it looked like the Metropolitan Council would award an engineering contract for the line to the San Francisco firm that worked on the Interstate 35W bridge before it collapsed in 2007. The council tabled the action.
An environmental impact statement is being done for the Southwest line. Construction is scheduled to begin in 2014, with the line opening in 2018.
The planning process has begun for the Bottineau corridor, with public open houses and an environmental review underway. The main decisions: whether it should be a busway or a light-rail line, and whether it should go to Maple Grove or Brooklyn Park.
Also to be decided is whether the south end of the line would go through Golden Valley or north Minneapolis.
The project has embarked on a long process to compete for federal funding. As a light-rail line, costs could run from $900 million to $1 billion; a busway would cost roughly half that. Officials hope that federal funds will cover half the cost, with the balance coming from the region, county and state.
The project’s timeline has it up and running by the end of 2018. But that doesn’t take into account the typical hiccups that occur along the way.
CEDAR AVENUE BUSWAY
If there’s a hot spot in the south metro transit scene in 2012, it’s Cedar Avenue.
Dubbed the Red Line, it’s supposed to open in November.
It’s not light rail, but it’s meant to evoke the idea of trains on a track. Sleek buses will roll along dedicated shoulder lanes and stop at distinctive stations along the route every 15 minutes.
Future plans call for additional stations and service into Lakeville sometime between 2012 and 2020, depending on growth and ridership, among other things.