Updated: 01/22/2014 8:36 PM
Created: 01/22/2014 4:36 PM KSTP.com
By: Beth McDonough
The date is set. Five months from now, the long-awaited Metro Green Line will be up and running. At this point, construction is 98 percent complete.
The Metropolitan Council announced the section of the light rail line will open Saturday, June 14. It connects downtown St. Paul to downtown Minneapolis.
Even though it's not even up and running yet, a lot of people are being affected, including businesses, motorists and pedestrians.
With a project of this magnitude, there are winners and losers.
Susan Haigh is with the Metropolitan Council, "We have until the end of the calendar year 2014, this project is definitely done before time, on budget." The opening date is six months earlier than required by the Federal Transit Administration, which is funding half of the $957 million project.
At a pep rally of sorts Wednesday, project leaders looked forward to June 14. They also reflected on the rocky road to get the 11-mile line finished. "It's about solving the problems, making sure every issue is addressed as best we could try to get this to yes," said Ramsey County Commissioner Jim McDonough.
Hennepin County Commissioner Peter McLaughlin told KSTP, "anytime you make a big investment in infrastructure you're going to have to accommodate and make adjustments with existing buildings there, business and residents."
Three years worth of construction along University Avenue inconvenienced enough customers- 90 businesses closed, 24 more moved within the corridor, and 28 moved out.
But the potential for access to light rail riders prompted others to apply for $1.7 billion worth of building permits to open 100 new businesses. Bruce Delles is a longtime University Avenue business owner, "did we really trade an apple for an apple?"
To make way for light rail tracks in the middle of University, but still keep two driving lanes on either side, drivers gave up 85 percent of the street parking. Plus 20,000 cars can no longer drive on Washington Avenue to make way for a new pedestrian transit mall.
The trip from downtown St. Paul to downtown Minneapolis will take 39 minutes. Trains run every 10 minutes during peak times. The average ticket will cost riders $1.75.
KSTP asked if contractors got a bonus for finishing the project early. We learned, there is no bonus, and no surplus in the budget according to the Metropolitan Council.