Southwest Light Rail Transit (LRT)
Update: December 2018
The following notices are sections of press releases issues by the Metropolitan Council regarding Southwest LRT.
November 30, 2018 - A ceremonial groundbreaking was held for the Southwest Light Rail Project (SWLRT).
The Metropolitan Council is moving into construction of the project after receiving a Letter of No Prejudice (LONP) from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) earlier this month, which makes early construction work on the project eligible for federal reimbursement upon award of the Full Funding Grant Agreement (FFGA), anticipated in 2019. With the FFGA, the federal government would pay $929 million -- nearly half -- of the project’s total cost.
Receipt of the LONP allowed a variety of actions to move forward, including the Metropolitan Council awarding a construction contract to Lunda/C.S. McCrossan for $799,514,338, as well as approvals from Hennepin County, the project’s primary local funding.
Early construction activities this winter could include staffing and equipment mobilization, site clearance, demolition and utility work. Heavy construction would occur in 2019-2022, with testing of the system with new light rail vehicles anticipated in 2022-2023. SWLRT is expected to begin passenger service in 2023.
November 14, 2018 - The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) cleared the path for construction to begin on the Southwest Light Rail Transit Project (SWLRT). The $2.003 billion project will be the largest infrastructure project in the state’s history.
The FTA granted what is known as a Letter of No Prejudice (LONP). It makes the early construction work on the project eligible for federal reimbursement upon award of the Full Funding Grant Agreement (FFGA), anticipated in 2019. With the FFGA, the federal government would pay $929 million -- nearly half -- of the project’s total cost. The LONP means the Metropolitan Council can move forward with awarding a construction contract and begin mobilizing for construction.
For more information about the projec and to read the complete press releases, visit: SWLRT.org.
Update: November 2017
Public Open House: Southwest LRT - Proposed Freight Rail Corridor Protection Wall
Learn about the design of the proposed corridor protection wall between freight rail and light rail tracks in Minneapolis, and give your input on aesthetic design options.
Wednesday, November 15, 2017
5:00 - 7:00 p.m.
Bryn Mawr Elementary School Cafeteria, 252 Upton Ave S
Between Glenwood Avenue and Bryn Mawr Station in Minneapolis, METRO Green Line Extension tracks will run parallel to high volume mainline freight rail tracks (the Wayzata Subdivision). The current design of the Southwest LRT project includes protection for bridge piers and other corridor elements in this area. The additional corridor protection wall between the freight rail and light rail tracks is required by BNSF as a condition for allowing the LRT tracks to be built on its right of way.
For more information about the proposed corridor protection wall and to view a video of the area, visit the project’s website at swlrt.org. If you can’t attend this meeting, a comment form and open house materials will be posted on the website to receive your feedback.
Update: June 2016
The Metropolitan Council Southwest Project Office will hold an informal meeting regarding the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) for Southwest LRT.
Monday, June 13, 6:30-8:00 p.m.
Kenwood Community Center, 2101 W Franklin Ave
There will be a 45-minute presentation by the Met Council, followed by a question and answer period. NOTE: This is not an official hearing and will not be considered public testimony on the FEIS; comments will not be entered into the public record. Comments on the FEIS must be submitted as described below.
The 2016 state legislative session did not produce a transportation/transit bill therefore there is a missing funding block of 10% for Southwest LRT.
Hennepin County has indicated supporting a local sales tax increase to cover the missing funding for capital and possibly ongoing operating costs. To learn more about this, see this petition. Hennepin County could also decide to increase property taxes to cover the missing funding.
Updated: May 2016
Final Environmental Impact Statement Released On Southwest LRT
The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) published the final environmental document on the Southwest LRT Project. The Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) responds to comments received on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) and Supplemental DEIS, released in 2012 and 2015, respectively.
See metrocouncil.org/swlrt/feis to access the FEIS online or to learn where copies are available to review.
The deadline for pubic comments is Monday, June 13, 2016. Please address comments to:
Ms. Nani Jacobson, Assistant Director, Environmental and Agreements
Metro Transit – Southwest LRT Project Office
6465 Wayzata Blvd., Suite 500
St. Louis Park, MN 55426
There are not public hearings associated with the comment period.
Updated: September 2015
The Minneapolis City Council approved municipal consent for Southwest LRT on September 25, 2015.
Updated: July 21, 2015
On July 21, 2015, the CIDNA Board electronically approved the comments for the Southwest LRT
Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement (SDEIS). Read CIDNA's response to the SDEIS.
Only July 8, 2015, the Metropolitan Council approved the revised Southwest LRT scope and budget. Read the press release that outlines the project details.
Updated: June 26, 2015
Mayor Hodges' Letter to Met Council
Read the letter that Mayor Betsy Hodges and Council Member Kevin Reich sent to the Metropolitan Council Commissioners as they prepare to make their decision on the Southwest LRT project scope and budget.
Updated: May 31, 2015
On May 21, 2015, the Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement (SDEIS) was released for review and comment. The SDEIS evaluates potential impacts in three segments of the proposed
Southwest LRT route. These potential impacts are the result of adjustments to the design of the
Southwest LRT Project since the publication of the Draft EIS in 2012. An electronic version of the
document can be found at metrocouncil.org/swlrt/sdeis (scroll down to "View or Download the
Supplemental Draft EIS"). Hard copies of the document are available at the local libraries and city halls along the alignment as well as at the Southwest LRT Project Office. Public comments on the SDEIS will be accepted through July 21, 2015 (extended from original date of July 6).
Learn more about the SDEIS.
Updated: April 2015
Open Houses were held in April 2015 for station architecture concepts. Go to Station Design project webpage for more information.
Updated: September 3, 2014
On Friday, August 29, 2014, the Minneapolis City Council voted 10 to 3 to give municipal consent for the Southwest Light Rail Transit Project.
The vote comes after council members approved three binding agreements that, among other things,
assure that the land under the freight rail line in the affected Kenilworth Corridor would remain in public hands. Minneapolis was the final city to give municipal consent to the project, allowing the Metropolitan Council to seek approval from the federal government to enter Final Engineering.
Read the complete notice on the City's website.
Updated: July 8, 2014
Metropolitan Council Chair Susan Haigh and Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges announce a tentative agreement regarding the plan to build the Southwest Light Rail Project.
The tentative agreement, which includes two memoranda of understanding, was reached as a result
of discussions mediated by retired federal judge The Honorable Arthur J. Boylan.
At the City's request, one memorandum of understanding awaiting approval by both sides calls for
the Metropolitan Council to: redesign the Minneapolis portion of the Southwest Light Rail Corridor to remove the light rail tunnel north of the water channel connecting Cedar Lake and Lake of the Isles; add back the 21st Street Station; and add City-requested pedestrian-access, noise mitigation,
landscape restoration and other improvements along the portion of the corridor in Minneapolis.
If approved by both sides, the Met Council's revised budget for Southwest light rail will be reduced by $30 million, from $1.683 billion to $1.653 billion, as a result of these changes to the preliminary design of the project.
Separately, the parties tentatively agreed to a second memorandum of understanding that commits
the Met Council to work closely with the City and the Hennepin County Regional Railroad Authority to ensure that the Kenilworth freight corridor remains in public ownership, which the parties agree will decrease the chances that freight trains will increase in frequency or carry more dangerous cargo through the corridor.
The Metropolitan Council will take the following actions:
Metropolitan Council will convene a meeting of the Southwest Corridor Management Committee
July 9, 2014 at 10:00 a.m. (Beth El Synagogue, 5224 W. 26th Street, St. Louis Park) to review and
discuss the tentative agreement. The Metropolitan Council will meet on July 9, 2014 at 4:00 p.m.
to consider approving the amended preliminary project scope and budget and set a joint public hearing with Hennepin County Regional Railroad Authority for August 13, 2014 where residents will be invited to testify. At the same meeting, the Met Council will consider the two memoranda of understanding between the Metropolitan Council and the City regarding ownership of the Kenilworth freight corridor and the City-requested changes to the preliminary design plan. If approved, the Metropolitan Council will present a new municipal consent package to the City on Thursday, July 10, triggering a new timeline for a final municipal consent vote from the City. Hennepin County will vote on August 19, 2014 at a special board meeting to approve municipal consent.
The City of Minneapolis will take the following actions:
The Minneapolis City Council's Transportation & Public Works Committee will review the basic outline of the tentative agreement at the end of its regular committee meeting on July 8. At the July 8th public briefing, residents will have an opportunity to learn more specific details about the tentative agreement and provide public comment. Minneapolis residents will have another opportunity for input at a public hearing on municipal consent on August 19, 2014. The City Council will vote on municipal consent at its regular meeting on August 29, 2014.
The tentative agreement will become final after it has been approved and signed by both the Met Council and City of Minneapolis. Presentation material for the tentative agreement.
On April 9, 2014, the Metropolitan Council approved the Southwest LRT project’s scope to include LRT running in shallow tunnels and freight rail and trails remaining at-grade through the Kenilworth corridor with a budget between $1.673 billion and $1.683 billion.
On March 7, 2014, the Minneapolis City Council passed a resolution to restate their position that
they do not support co-location of LRT and freight in the Kenilworth Corridor (including the option of shallow LRT tunnels).
Updated: December 2012
Draft Environmental Impact Statement
The Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS), which documents the potential impacts of the
Southwest Transitway project, was released on October 12, 2012. Public comments were accepted
through December 31, 2012. The DEIS and the comment letters are available here.
Below are quick links to the following DEIS responses:
CIDNA: On December 5, 2012, the CIDNA Board approved a DEIS response from the joint neighborhood task force.
Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board response.
Jennifer Ringold, Manager of Public Engagement and Citywide Planning for the Park Board, presented information to CIDNA residents (December 20, 2012) about the Park Board's work to study the feasibility of lowering the train/trail and bridging Cedar Lake Parkway at the Cedar Lake Parkway intersection. Presentation material.