Groundbreaking for long awaited Southwest Light Rail

SWLRT will pass through St. Louis Park, Hopkins, Minnetonka, Edina and Eden Prairie.

Edgar Linares
November 30, 2018 - 8:15 pm

By Edgar Linares

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For decades, community members and others have battled with state, local and business leaders over the Southwest Light Rail project. On Friday, the debate took a pause with a ceremonial groundbreaking in Hopkins for the Metro Green Line extension.

“The green line extension is going to have three stations in Hopkins,” said Molly Cummings, Hopkins Mayor. “This offers the opportunity for our residents who depend on transit to cast a wider net to find an appropriate job and perhaps channel the expense of car ownership to other quality of life areas.”

The 14.5-mile extension will pass through the suburbs of St. Louis Park, Hopkins, Minnetonka, Edina and Eden Prairie with an estimated weekly ridership of 34,000.

Friday’s groundbreaking brought together U.S. Senators Tina Smith and Amy Klobuchar. Also, Congressman and Attorney General-elect Rep. Keith Ellison. Sen. Klobuchar said this project would help open doors to economic opportunities. Sen. Smith add that there are three Fortune 500 companies along the route and even more, thousands of jobs along the way.

“Another benefit of this project is that soon residences all along SWLRT will be able to take the train to US Bank stadium and watch the Vikings beat the packers again, and again, and again!” said Sen. Klobuchar.

Hennepin County Commissioner Peter McLaughlin has championed the project for decades. During Friday’s groundbreaking, he brought a ceremonial shovel used at the 2001 groundbreaking of the Hiawatha light rail line.

“I brought it just to remind people how long we’ve been working at this. And the fact that we’re trying to build a system… It’s important that we think about the whole region in making this happen,” said McLaughlin.

Rep. Ellison thanked supporters of the project and he thanked opponents.

“I’m going to tell you why. They made the line better by challenging the orthodoxy, by saying what about the water, what about this or what about that. They literally made us sharpen our case and make a stronger argument and make adjustment where adjustment could and should be made,” Ellison said.

Construction of the $2.003 billion project is set to begin early next year with a completion date of 2023. This will be the state’s largest public infrastructure project ever.