Council gives municipal consent for Blue Line Extension

The future Blue Line extension will link Target Field with Brooklyn Park.  Credit: File photo
The future Blue Line extension will link Target Field with Brooklyn Park. Credit: File photo

The City Council voted 9-3 Friday to give municipal consent to the Blue Line Extension project — a 13-mile LRT line linking downtown with Brooklyn Park.

Council Members Blong Yang (Ward 5) and Cam Gordon (Ward 2) voted no and raised concerns about the proposed design for the line on Olson Memorial Highway. They have pushed for lane reductions to improve pedestrian safety, but Minnesota Department of Transportation officials have so far denied that request.

Council Member Alondra Cano (Ward 9) also voted against granting municipal consent for the project.

The current plan for the project is to keep six to seven lanes of traffic on Olson Memorial Highway. The entire stretch of the highway from I-94 to Theodore Wirth Park will be reconstructed and the posted speed limit will be reduced to 35 mph, said Blue Line LRT project director Dan Soler. Traffic lanes will also be narrowed.

Yang said his constituents’ safety is more important than fast commute times for workers from the western suburbs.

Gordon also expressed frustration that the proposed design doesn’t include more pedestrian improvements and noted that Crystal is in line to get a pedestrian bridge for the project.

Service is expected to start in 2021 for the $1.496 billion Blue Line extension project. In addition to Minneapolis and Brooklyn Park, the line will pass through Golden Valley, Robbinsdale and Crystal.

Planners anticipate 27,000 weekday boardings by 2030.

The Blue Line Extension project will be the region’s fourth LRT line following the opening of the Green Line extension (Southwest LRT) in 2020.