Feds Announce Plans to Expedite Southwest Rail Line Permit Process
An unexpected announcement from the White House Monday could make a light rail in the southwest part of the metro happen faster than planned.
The approval process for the light rail line has been fast tracked. The federal government announced it will expedite the permit process for the proposed line.
The rail-line hasn't been fully funded yet -- but if built, would connect with the Hiawatha light rail line in downtown Minneapolis, right at Target Field.
It would go through uptown, then into St. Louis Park, Hopkins, and Minnetonka before ending along highway 212 near Eden Prairie Town Center.
Bus commuters in Eden Prairie say they can't wait for the day light rail becomes a reality.
"I think it will be great actually, especially nights i want to stay downtown. Weekends.. Because they don't have bus service on the weekends," said Bob Warner.
Rachel Lindgren believes, "Light rail would probably be more spacious, faster."
Judy Johnson with the Twin West Chamber of Commerce agrees, "We know we have to move employees back and fourth, to and from these jobs."
What Johnson and other southwest light rail supporters don't know yet is if it will even happen.
Most of the $1.25 billion budget has been funded. What's left is $125 million that will have to come from the state of Minnesota.
She says, “We just need to continue to urge legislators that it is a sound investment."
If and when state lawmakers sign on -- the process of building the rail line would happen "several" months faster than expected, because of the white house announcement made Monday that it has "expedited" multiple permit and review processes.
To which Johnson says, “And now we need to move forward in Minnesota to make it happen. So it's a big deal."
If the funding comes together, the light rail line would be completed by 2018.