Met Council, Hennepin County exploring new direction for Blue Line Extension corridor after talks fail with BNSF

Met Council, Hennepin County exploring new direction for Blue Line Extension corridor after talks fail with BNSF Photo: KSTP.

Josh Skluzacek
Updated: August 03, 2020 12:31 PM
Created: August 03, 2020 12:24 PM

Monday, the Metropolitan Council and Hennepin County announced they are exploring a new direction for the METRO Blue Line Extension/Bottineau Light Rail Transit that doesn't include the co-location of rails with BNSF Railway.

It comes after years of unsuccessful discussions with BNSF, the Met Council said. The Met Council had wanted to share eight miles of BNSF-owned track.

BNSF told KSTP in September, "We've told Met Council repeatedly for the past several years and as recently as this spring that we are not proceeding with any discussion of passenger rail on our property in this corridor."

Hennepin County works to prepare businesses along proposed Blue Line Extension corridor

While disappointed in the outcome, the Met Council said the commitment to the Blue Line Extension/Bottineau LRT hasn't changed, and officials are now looking at new ways to complete the project as soon as possible.

"This project is a critical element in meeting our transportation needs for a growing region," said Metropolitan Chair Charlie Zelle. "Our commitment to the Blue Line Extension has not changed and I look forward to working with project partners and community stakeholders as we chart our new pathway forward."

"This light rail line is more than just a project to advance—it is a commitment to the residents and communities along the corridor for robust engagement and investment for years and decades to come. The Blue Line Extension will further our region's transit vision, and it will connect students to schools, workers to jobs, and patients to health care," added Hennepin Commissioner Irene Fernando, District 2.

The Met Council's Corridor Management Committee will hold a meeting on Aug. 13 where project partners will go over the next steps. Community conversations and engagement opportunities are being planned for the coming weeks and months, the Met Council said.

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