Central Corridor light rail wins $460 million from feds

The 11-mile Central Corridor light rail project has taken a major step forward. St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman says the check is in the mail for the $460 million federal grant the project was banking on.

The Federal Transit Administration OK'd the grant and sent it to Congress for final approval in February--even as construction on the line was already under way.

Despite budget cutting on Capitol Hill, the grant money survived intact, and Coleman says the FTA will sign the final agreement.

The link to St. Paul is another step closer to reality.
The link to St. Paul is another step closer to reality.

The grant covers about half of the project's total cost, with the rest of the financing coming from state and local sources.

If all goes according to plan, the Central Corridor line will open for business in 2014 and haul 41,000 riders a week by 2030. Construction may create something along the order of 3,400 private-sector jobs.

In the meantime, construction is going to seriously disrupt travel and business along the route, and the Met Council has approved a total of $11.1 million in business aid to help offset the impact. About $4 million of that is tagged for forgivable loans to help small businesses prepare for construction and remain financially stable, Coleman said. About $2 million will go toward improving off-street parking along University Avenue.


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