Bottineau Boulevard Launches Website for Alternatives Analysis Study
Hennepin County Regional Railroad Authority has created a website for the Bottineau Transitway Alternatives Analysis Study, which is determining the best mode of transportation to serve the 22-mile corridor. The site houses information about the study and posts study documents and meeting notice updates. As you may recall, this project was originally envisioned as a busway in the center of a rebuilt Trunk Highway 81. The project is now being studied for light rail transit.

Central Corridor Work Continues
On September 5th, the Metropolitan Council submitted its draft application to the Federal Transit Administration to begin final design work for the Central Corridor. The Federal Transit Administration is expected to review the 4,000-plus pages of charts, graphs, technical drawings, information on project plans, ridership projections, operating and maintenance costs and a project budget of $914.9 million over the coming months before making a decision on the project by early next year. The application was the result of 20 months of work, which included nearly a thousand public meetings attended by 25,000 people. Soaring costs for steel, asphalt, concrete and other materials forced modifications in August in project plans to reduce costs and meet federal cost-effectiveness requirements. As proposed, the project includes 15 new stations, a transit-pedestrian mall on Washington Avenue on the University of Minnesota’s East Bank campus and the underground infrastructure for three additional stations that could be added later at Western, Victoria and Hamline on University Avenue in St. Paul.

First Northstar Locomotive Arrives
Don't be surprised if you see a Northstar Commuter Rail locomotive
rolling down the track! The first of five Northstar locomotives arrived
at the Northstar Vehicle Maintenance Facility in Big Lake this month.
Along the way, it passed by stations under construction at Downtown
Minneapolis, Coon Rapids, Anoka, Elk River and Big Lake. The line is scheduled to open by the end of 2009. The Metropolitan Council is currently reassessing proposed fares for Northstar to ensure that there is consistency among subsidies for light rail, bus, and commuter rail.  Check out
photos of the trains passing the Coon Rapids station!

Southwest Light Rail Transit Public Meetings Draw Large Crowds
Hennepin County held three public meetings over the last two weeks on a “scoping process” for the proposed Southwest light rail transit project (SWLRT). The meetings were held as the County begins its development of a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS). That study, which will examine three possible alignments, is expected to take about 18 months.  The SWLRT line will connect  Eden Prairie with downtown Minneapolis; some portion of the line will run alongside the current SWLRT trail.  If project planning remains on schedule, and local funding and FTA approvals happen when expected, the line will open in 2015 – one year after the expected opening of the Central Corridor. Check the web site

Jeremy Messersmith Releases “Light Rail,” a Song about the Hiawatha Line
Jeremy Messersmith’s new “Light Rail” song is highly in demand on local radio. The song is about the Hiawatha Line and features lyrics like “It’ll take you anywhere you want to go/take a ride/you can watch the town fly by/hop inside/you’ll be there in half the time/when you ride the light rail/OOOOOOO.” With the help of eForests, Messersmith has supported tree planting and carbon reduction projects that will absorb and offset all of the carbon dioxide (CO2) created during the production, manufacture and distribution of the CDs as well as from his travel from his Autumn 2008 U.S. tour. You can listen to the song at by clicking on “Light Rail” in the music player. You can purchase the album, The Silver City, at local music stores and