Officials recommend route for Blue Line Extension, ask for community input

After nearly two years of work to find the best route for the Blue Line Extension project, officials have now recommended one.

Monday, the Metropolitan Council and Hennepin County released a route recommendation they say factored in community input and findings from technical analyses.

The proposed route would extend the existing light rail from Target Field along West Broadway Avenue in Minneapolis to County Road 81 in Crystal and Robbinsdale, then along West Broadway Avenue in Brooklyn Park.

The newly proposed Blue Line Extension route. (Met Council)

“The METRO Blue Line Extension is an essential part of our region’s transit infrastructure,” Met Council Chairman Charlie Zelle said in a statement. “Our Hennepin County partner and the METRO Blue Line Extension staff have done an admirable job in balancing the feedback we have heard from the community, engineering challenges, and route analysis in making this recommendation. The route is not without its challenges, but I sincerely believe they are not insurmountable. When complete, the METRO Blue Line Extension will be an investment our community can be proud of.”

The community can now weigh in on the proposed route through May 18 by:

Officials will be considering the input before approving a final route. Once the route is made official, design work and an environmental review will be done.

The line is projected to open in 2028, although the Met Council notes that could change. Planning for the project has already exceeded a decade.

“The new proposed route for the Blue Line Extension Light Rail project will bring transformational benefits to residents from Minneapolis to Brooklyn Park,” Irene Fernando, Hennepin County District 2 Commissioner and chairperson of the Regional Railroad Authority, said in a statement. “The communities served by the proposed route are transit-reliant and racially diverse and have experienced historical disinvestment. The proposed route will connect students to education, workers to jobs, patients to healthcare, and families to resources, while connecting the corridor to the broader transit network. This project will ignite economic development for small businesses, result in more affordable housing options, increase access to educational opportunities, and build wealth for working families.”

“The benefits of this project exceed the obvious,” Hennepin County District 1 Commissioner Jeff Lunde said in a statement. “We will be making infrastructure improvements that help all modes of transportation, upgrading utilities, and addressing environmental injustices all along the corridor. With one project, we are transforming peoples’ access as well as the livability within their surroundings. We are also transforming employers’ abilities to get staff onsite, which is gaining in importance as people return to workplaces.”

“I am very pleased by today’s announcement of the recommended route,” Met Council Member Reva Chamblis said in a statement. “Like many people, I am excited about the prospect of an equitable transit solution for our residents. While this project will not right all the historical wrongs, it is truly a momentous investment and recognition of our vibrant, unique communities and the people that make it so. With this final route recommendation, community voices are essential to ensure maximum benefit can be achieved as we move towards completing the project.”