It’s official: Feds sign agreement to fund Central Corridror LRT

John Hageman

Construction on the 11-mile Central Corridror light rail line has been underway for a while, even with only half of the funds in the bank.

That changed Tuesday, when the U.S. Department of Transportation signed a $474 million grant agreement for construction of the new rail line that will connect downtown St. Paul and Minneapolis.

“The Obama Administration is thrilled to partner with the people of Minnesota to build the largest public works project in the state’s history,” Federal Transit Administrator Peter Rogoff said in a statement. “This project truly embodies the President’s vision for winning the future through infrastructure investment. It will create thousands of construction jobs now while paving the way for many thousands of jobs that will come to the Twin Cities through the economic development successes surrounding the new rail line. “

The absence of the funds have been a concern for some lawmakers, and provoked a proposal in the legislature that would have halted construction until the funds were secured.

Officials from the the Metropolitan Council, which oversees Metro Transit, and other project planners were never worried that money wouldn’t come through.  The Met Council sent the full funding grant agreement to Congress for a complimentary review in February.

Gov. Mark Dayton, Sen. Al Franken, Met Council Chair Susan Haigh and Mayors R.T. Rybak of Minneapolis and Chris Coleman of St. Paul were scheduled to commemorate the signing at an event this morning in St. Paul.

Construction will hit the University of Minnesota campus next month after classes end, and will shut down much of Washington Avenue. Project planners hope to have the trains running by 2014.

Check for continuing updates on the project.