Proposed streetcar line connecting St. Paul to the airport and MoA advancing quickly

Planners say it's nearing the phase of being eligible for federal funding.

Laura Oakes
November 15, 2018 - 3:30 pm

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With Southwest Light Rail Transit moving ahead in the west metro, another project is getting its legs in the east. A proposed streetcar line connecting downtown St. Paul to the airport and Mall of America.

The two billion dollar project has undergone several studies already, and planners say it's nearing the phase of being eligible for federal funding.

Ramsey County Regional Railroad Authority transit project manager Mike Rogers said the big advantage of streetcars is that they "fit better" because they can use existing light rail tracks, or utilize new ones.

"Where the streetcar benefits us as is that they be able to run in mixed traffic and to not have to force a big corridor into an area where there's more uses that want to use the limited amount of right away," he explained. 

Rogers said he sees their versatility as key. 

"I think the wave of the future is flexibility with what you're going to do. So it's not going to be a one size fits all," he said. 

According to Rogers, a three-year environmental study will help answer questions that have raised some concern, such as how to get around or through historic Fort Snelling.

Public hearings and open houses are also planned, likely beginning next year.