The Metro D Line is one step away from gaining final approval after the Metropolitan Council Transportation Committee on Monday voted to award a $26.1 million contract to Thomas and Sons Construction.

If the full Met Council passes the measure at Wednesday's meeting, construction on the metro area's next rapid bus line could begin this spring, said project manager Shahin Khazrajafari.

Once built, the D Line would largely replace Metro Transit's Route 5 and run 18 miles between the Mall of America in Bloomington and the Brooklyn Center Transit Center. Service could begin in December 2022.

Thomas and Sons Construction, which built the C Line, will build 40 stations at 30 intersections along the route on Chicago, Fremont and Emerson avenues. The stations will have large shelters with machines allowing riders to pay fares before boarding, plus heat lamps, security cameras, bike racks, benches and signs with real-time schedule information.

Metro Transit will work in concert with Hennepin County and the cities of Bloomington and Minneapolis to improve sidewalks and make signal improvements along the corridor, Khazrajafari said.

Route 5 is Metro Transit's busiest route and before the pandemic served more than 15,000 riders a day. A ride from one end of the line to the other takes about 90 minutes. Trips could be up to 25% faster when the station-to-station service begins, Khazrajafari said.

Tim Harlow • 612-673-7768