The Orange Line bus rapid-transit project has received a $74.1 million grant from the federal government, a funding infusion that will help finish construction of the 17-mile line.
The Federal Transit Administration formally announced the grant Wednesday after signaling it would do so last November. Last week, several elected officials indicated the money had been officially released by the transit agency’s Capital Investment Grants program, which funds major transit projects nationwide.
The Orange Line’s route along Interstate 35W will link downtown Minneapolis to Burnsville, through Richfield and Bloomington. It will also connect passengers to major employers in the metro, including Best Buy, HealthPartners, Wells Fargo and Toro.
Service is expected to begin in 2021.
“This federal investment will help connect residents to jobs and support continued economic growth in the Twin Cities region,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao in a news release.
The project includes 20 stations and upgraded street and highway improvements, as well as a transit-only ramp between downtown Minneapolis and I-35W and a new Lake Street Station, work that is already underway.
“This is an exciting day for the future of our region,” said Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz in a news release. “Connecting our communities with reliable and accessible public transportation like the Metro Orange Line builds economic opportunity and increases mobility for tens of thousands of Minnesotans.”
Crews will break ground on the next phase of construction this summer, along Knox Avenue in Richfield and Bloomington. An extension of the Orange Line to Lakeville is envisioned in future years.