Obama budget gives light rail $200 million

Construction on the Washington Avenue Bridge will begin soon.

Jill Jensen

President ObamaâÄôs 2012 budget proposal on Monday allocated $200 million to the Central Corridor light-rail line.

The federal money is necessary to make the project go forward, Tim Busse, University of Minnesota Services spokesman, said.

The proposal is a significant bump from ObamaâÄôs 2011 budget funding that gave $45 million to the light rail. That budget has not been approved by Congress.

The $957 million line connecting the Twin Cities is expected to begin service in 2014.

Construction starts on the Washington Avenue Bridge on Feb. 28, slowing transit and eliminating the Campus Connector bus stop at Blegen Hall on West Bank.

âÄúThe campus community is going to face significant challenges over the next few years,âÄù Busse said.

There will be disruptions for a couple years, he said, but once construction is completed, the light rail will be a vital link between the Twin Cities that will make the University âÄúunique among college campuses.âÄù

The project would create a transit mall that would not allow cars from Pleasant to Walnut streets, said Laura Baenen, communications manager for the Metropolitan Council, and it would reduce congestion on Washington Avenue upon completion.

The light rail will have stations at Stadium Village, as well as the UniversityâÄôs East and West Banks.