Met Council buys 27 Southwest LRT vehicles

The Metropolitan Council last week chose Siemens to manufacture 27 light-rail cars worth $118 million for the Southwest light-rail project.

The $1.9 billion transit line will link downtown Minneapolis to Eden Prairie, through St. Louis Park, Hopkins and Minnetonka. Service is scheduled to begin in 2021.

The new cars will feature better access for passengers in wheelchairs and with disabilities, according to the Met Council. Each LRT vehicle will hold more than 200 people, or about 600 people on three-car trains.

The Met Council said the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) will pay half the total project cost. The amount of the contract is 5 percent lower than the lowest cost estimate, and includes an option for the council to buy 50 more vehicles for the Bottineau Blue Line LRT, which also is expected to open in 2021.

The FTA is expected to approve Southwest's entry into the engineering phase in late November 2016. Heavy construction will begin in the summer of 2017.



Voters reject $12 million facilities referendum

Farmington voters on Tuesday narrowly rejected a referendum to build new ball fields, a hockey rink, an expanded trail system and a water park.

The vote was 5,755 to 5,172 to turn down the facilities package, a margin of 5.4 percent of the total votes cast. The vote marked the fourth time since 1997 that Farmington residents declined to pay for a water park and ball fields.

If it had passed, the development would have raised property taxes by $102 for 20 years for the owner of an average home valued at $212,787.

Before the vote, Farmington's Parks and Recreation Department held three public meetings. In Rosemount, voters last spring rejected a similar referendum for $15 million for sports facilities.

Natalie Daher

Oak Park Heights

Westbound ramp road opens at new bridge

Another roadway connected to the new St. Croix River bridge was expected to open Friday in Oak Park Heights.

The westbound ramp now will divert Hwy. 95 traffic from Bayport and Stillwater onto Hwy. 36 through an area that was used for construction during the past three years. Until Friday, the eastbound ramp had funneled traffic in both directions.

The main portion of Hwy. 36 that will lead motorists onto the bridge is under construction. The Minnesota Department of Transportation said the bridge will open next fall, possibly in September, and hoped for a late construction season this year to accelerate the work.

The main bridge approach road and the ramp roads traverse a portion of Oak Park Heights once full of trees and dozens of houses. Most of the houses were moved in the 1990s in anticipation of construction.

Kevin Giles


City project to replace meters is nearing end

Plymouth's citywide project to swap out outdated water meters for new radio-read models is about two-thirds complete, according to city officials.

The goal of the project, which began earlier this year, is to make meter readings more consistent and replace a system that had passed the point of its expected usefulness.

"We recognize that it can be an inconvenience, but the entire meter reading operation will be more efficient once meters are replaced," said Luke Fischer, the city's administrative services director.

So far, more than 14,000 water meters have been replaced in homes and businesses. Most of the rest of the work to be done is in the city's north and east sections.

The city's contractor, Professional Meters Inc., will notify residents when they are ready to swap meters. The failure of a resident to respond after three mailed notices from the contractor will result in a $100 monthly charge to manually read the meter.

For more information, go to plymouthmn.gov/newmeters.