The Hennepin County Regional Railroad Authority voted last week to contribute $50.9 million to advance engineering of the Bottineau Blue Line light-rail project.

The $1.5 billion, 13-mile line would connect downtown Minneapolis with Brooklyn Park along a route going through north Minneapolis, Golden Valley, Robbinsdale and Crystal. The line is scheduled to open in 2021.

The Counties Transit Improvement Board (CTIB), which collects a quarter-cent transit tax from five metro counties, is expected to fund the remaining 60 percent required for the project’s engineering phase. The engineering work will position the Metropolitan Council to apply for a grant from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) that would pay for 49 percent of the project’s total cost, or $753 million.

In January, the FTA approved Bottineau’s entry into the engineering phase, which involves preparing for construction in 2018.

The Met Council expects Bottineau to create about 6,500 construction jobs, totaling $300 million in payroll for workers.

Bottineau is an extension of the Blue Line, which connects downtown Minneapolis with the Mall of America. When Bottineau is complete, passengers will have access to 10 Fortune 500 companies, the University of Minnesota, six sports venues, the VA Medical Center and Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.