Central Corridor light rail federal spending quadruples in Obama's FY2012 budget

Light rail gets a boost from Obama.

Light rail gets a boost from Obama.

Federal spending on the Central Corridor light rail project would quadruple from $45 million this year to $200 million next year under President Barack Obama's new $3.7 trillion budget.

Members of the Met Council, which oversees the project and has cast it as a major jobs program, immediately expressed delight. They see Obama making good on promises to support public transportation, but they may be counting their chickens before they're hatched.


That $45 million for 2011 has yet to be approved by Congress, and there's no reason to be optimistic that the 2012 proposal will survive the Republican budget slashers in the House.

Some work on the project has already started, and $145 million has already been spent on design, property acquisition, and construction. Planners expect the federal government to sign off on a deal to cover half the project's $957 million price tag in April.

The Central Corridor line, which will connect with the Hiawatha Line in Minneapolis, is projected to haul 41,000 riders a week by 2030.

Here's the construction timeline:
  • East of the Metrodome to Pleasant Street (including Washington Avenue bridge work), December 2010-November 2012
  • Washington Avenue bridge foundation work, September 2010-December 2010
  • Pleasant to Oak Street, May 2011-August 2012 (includes building the transit-pedestrian mall on the East Bank and the East Bank Station)
  • Oak Street intersection, May 2011-November 2011
  • Oak to 29th Avenue, March 2012-November 2012 (includes reconstructing the Huron Boulevard intersection and building the Stadium Village and 29th Avenue stations)
  • Transitway reconstruction, May 2011-August 2011
  • 29th Avenue to Emerald Street, March 2012-November 2012 (includes reconstructing University Avenue west of Highway 280)