Feds give green light to Gold Line transit project

The Federal Transit Administration has awarded the Gold Line Bus Rapid Transit project an important approval Jan. 19. The FTA officially granted Gold Line entry into the project development phase of the federal New Starts program, which funds major transit projects across the country. The designation means local spending will now be eligible for potential matching federal funds in the future.

 “This announcement is great news for the East Metro region and for our state. The Gold Line will improve transit choices for over a half million Minnesotans,” said Gov. Mark Dayton. “It will connect workers with good jobs, encourage business expansions, and reduce commuter congestion.”

“Gold Line BRT is critical to the future development of our region,” said U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum.  “Gold Line will provide frequent, all-day transit service in both directions to connect people who are headed to work, school, medical appointments, to pick up their kids or to get to sporting or arts events. I am pleased the FTA has approved this important next step for this project.”

 Management of the project recently transitioned from the Gateway Corridor Commission to the Metropolitan Council, which will be responsible for building and maintaining the line.

With the acceptance into project development, the Gold Line team is now cleared to begin the design, engineering, environmental and community outreach work involved in building the line. That project team will continue to include staff from Metropolitan Council, Ramsey County, Washington County, and MnDOT.

 The cost of the Gold Line project is currently estimated at $420 million, with half of the funding coming from the FTA. That cost estimate will be revised as the design and engineering work on the project continues. Current timelines estimate construction beginning in 2022, with rider service beginning in 2024.

 “The Gold Line is a critical component of our regional transit system,” said Metropolitan Council Chair Alene Tchourumoff. “A system that connects people across the region with jobs, school, and opportunities takes time to build out; but as we start to realize more of that system, the bigger vision of how transit supports a prosperous and growing region comes into focus.”

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