The City of Minneapolis announced two major transportation projects are moving forward in the planning stages including a new Bus Rapid Transit line on Interstate 35W and a major rebuild of parts of I-35W as it nears downtown Minneapolis.
The Federal Transit Administration’s Letter of No Prejudice allows local funding to be used on a transit-only access ramp between downtown Minneapolis and I-35W (right) and a transit station at I-35W and Lake Street.
The improvements are part of plans for the METRO Orange Line, which will bring frequent, all-day BRT service to several new and existing stations along a 17-mile stretch of I-35W between Marq2 in Minneapolis and downtown Burnsville. Service is scheduled to begin in 2020.
Like the station at I-35W and 46th Street, the Lake Street Station will be located in the middle of the interstate with two levels, an indoor waiting area and other amenities, serving Orange Line, express and local bus customers. The access ramp will allow 700 buses to avoid congestion entering and existing downtown each weekday.
Efforts to secure full funding for the Orange Line are ongoing but the FTA’s approval is important because it allows the transit ramp and Lake Street Station to be incorporated into state-led construction efforts on I-35W beginning later this year. MnDOT is planning construction on this stretch of I-35W to start by the end of 2017 and will continue until 2021.
Local spending on the ramp and station could later be matched by the federal government, which is being asked to cover half of the Orange Line’s total construction costs. Learn more about the Orange Line and subscribe to project updates here.