With the ceremonial signing of papers today, the federal government has officially agreed to pay half the construction cost of the Central Corridor light rail line that will connect St. Paul and Minneapolis.
That’s $478 million coming from the federal coffers towards the $957 million overall expected cost of the 11-mile line.
The rest of the funding comes from the Counties Transit Improvement Board, state of Minnesota, Ramsey and Hennepin counties’ regional railroad authorities, city of St. Paul, Metropolitan Council and the Central Corridor Funders Collaborative.
With a roomful of government officials on hand for the signing, any doubts about the future of the project were quelled; local and federal budget problems had led some to question whether the commitment would be made. But local officials had gone ahead with preliminary work, anyway.
The Twin Cities mayors made joyous statements:
“Central Corridor represents an historic economic opportunity to connect St. Paul residents to jobs, businesses, services and educational opportunities throughout the region,” said Mayor Chris Coleman. “At the same time, it’ll transform one of St. Paul’s most iconic streets and strengthen the communities that surround it.”
“On this day that is 30 years in the making, we must recommit to making Central Corridor all that it can be: to heal the wound that a freeway opened in the West Bank decades ago, to fully integrate light rail with every mode of transit, and to connect transit-dependent communities to every opportunity,” said Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak.
The line is expected to begin running in 2014, connecting downtown St. Paul with downtown Minneapolis, mostly along University Avenue.