May 13, 2019 06:29 PM
The first rails for the Southwest Light Rail extension of the Green Line rolled into St. Louis Park Monday.
"This is the start of construction. We are ready to go," said Trevor Roy, who is assigned to the project with Metropolitan Council. "They drop them off and move onto the next spot, drop them off and move onto the next spot."
Freight train traffic in the area is halted for the delivery, which, at times, is painstakingly slow. The 54 rail segments are massive, stretching about 1,600 feet, or just shy of one-third of a mile.
The delivery is the first high-profile work to be done in constructing the long-planned light rail extension. The 14.5 miles of track will eventually directly link Eden Prairie with Minneapolis and St. Paul. The line is expected to welcome its first passengers in the year 2023.
"In a few years people are going to be able to go from Eden Prairie to Target Field in one line with no transfers and able to get people to jobs, and it's very exciting," Roy said. "It's big not only for the people who have been working on this project for a long time, but the public who've been looking for a 21st century transportation system."
"When you're trying to make progress in an already built area, you have to have some downsides," said Sigrid Hutcheson, who lives nearby.
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Hutcheson and David Chapman came out Monday to watch some of the rails arrive. They couldn't help but notice the nearby closed trails.
Part of Cedar Lake Trail will be closed for two years, and Kenilworth Trail for three years as crews work nearby.
Chapman says it's a small price to pay for the advantage the light rail trains will bring.
"Once it's built, it's going to be an economic driver and, for us anyway, incredibly convenient," he said.
Hutcheson said she's looking forward to having a direct connection to the airport.
"We are very eager to have this stop right here because it's only about a half a mile from our house and we can walk here, get on the train and get downtown and go to the airport," she said.
The work will require the removal of more than 1,000 trees along Kenilworth Trail. But, officials say they'll be re-planting about 800 along with a host of other plants.
"This line is going to be in operation for a long, long time and we want to be good neighbors," Roy said.
The work will also require some road closures. In Hopkins, watch for Excelsior Boulevard at Jackson and Milwaukee to close twice for two weeks starting later this month. Also, Blake Road at Cedar Lake Trail will close in June for two weeks.
Additionally, in Eden Prairie, part of the eastbound ramp from Valley View Road to Highway 212 will close in June.
Updated: May 13, 2019 06:29 PM
Created: May 13, 2019 03:50 PM
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