LRT construction to begin soon

Construction will include sidewalk replacement and new traffic control.

LRT construction to begin soon

Raghav Mehta

After years of legislative wrangling and sluggish progress, the opening phases of Central Corridor Light Rail Transit line construction will begin this month in the Washington Avenue area. Summer construction will include everything from sidewalk and road replacements to installation of new traffic control equipment. The improvements are designed to prepare streets for heavy traffic when Washington Avenue is closed in 2011 and transformed into a âÄútransit-pedestrian mallâÄù for light-rail transit and buses. âÄúThe roads around Washington Avenue will be greatly improved,âÄù said Central Corridor spokeswoman manager Lauren Baenen. University of Minnesota spokesman Jeff Falk said planning is still in its preliminary stages and construction should begin as early as May 17. While the Washington Avenue area will experience changes this summer, Falk said the project will be fully underway by next year. âÄúThe real heavy lifting will begin in 2011 when Washington Avenue shuts down. So a lot of what weâÄôre seeing now over the course of the summer will be the initial easement work,âÄù Falk said. Central Corridor service is slated to begin by 2014. The line would connect downtown St. Paul and downtown Minneapolis along Washington and University avenues. Light rail goes green A plethora of recycled materials will be utilized during construction, according to a Central Corridor report. Recycled materials will include copper for station roofing, ground rods and wire and steel for bridge trusses. The report claims that the copper materials are expected to generate up to 45 percent recycled content. In addition, the 12,300 tons of track rail required for the project will contain at least 30 percent recycled steel. The 18 new light-rail stations will also utilize an LED lighting system. A vacant former Gillette Co. storage facility will be redesigned and used as a maintenance center as well. The revamping will ultimately save costs that would otherwise be used for construction of a new building. Light-rail updates As a part of a University effort to better inform the surrounding community on Central Corridor construction, a website will be unveiled in the next week that will provide regular updates on progress. Falk said people will be able to determine what roads will be impacted for the week, as well as sidewalks and parking garages. The address is lightrail.umn.edu.