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Federal commitment to Central Corridor funding expected next week


St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman may have leaked some news Monday when he mentioned — deep into his State of the City speech —- that the Federal Transit Administration will sign a “full funding grant agreement” next Tuesday, officially committing the feds to pay half of the nearly $1 billion cost of the light rail line connecting St. Paul and Minneapolis.

Central Corridor spokesperson Laura Baenen said that Coleman’s statement wasn’t exactly breaking news, because  “we’ve been saying for some time that we expect the signing by the end of April.”

While the Pioneer Press story on Coleman’s speech says that a full-fledged signing ceremony, complete with VIPs, is scheduled for next Tuesday at the state Revenue Department, Baenen would only say: “We expect the signing by Tuesday, April 26.” She said more information will be available soon.

Despite not yet having the official documents in hand for the federal matching funds, Met Council officials have gone ahead with preliminary work on the 11-mile light rail project, which will connect the two downtowns, mostly on a route along University Avenue.

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Coleman said the construction of the line is just under 12 percent completed. Anticipated cost is now $957 million, with $460 million coming from the federal government.