Blue Line Extension open houses begin March 20

A video visualizing the Golden Valley Road station. (Video courtesy of Blue Line Extension Project Office)

The Blue Line Extension project staff members are gearing up for a round of open houses beginning March 20 in Robbinsdale, Golden Valley, Crystal, Minneapolis and Brooklyn Park.
The light rail transit planners have completed approximately 60 percent of design and engineering for the 13-mile light rail line and the open houses will provide an opportunity for residents to learn about the design process, review design concepts and give feedback.
The project’s Corridor Management Committee met March 9 to discuss some of the new designs and other areas of interest for the $1.536 billion project.
The committee viewed a video visualizing the Golden Valley Road station. It is the first station-specific video released for the light rail planned to run from Target Field Station in Minneapolis through Golden Valley, Robbinsdale, Crystal and Brooklyn Park.
Construction coordination was a topic of interest at the meeting.
Project staff members are beginning discussions with other agencies regarding construction coordination because several infrastructure projects will be occurring at the same time.
“It has become apparent that construction coordination is going to be a popular topic,” said Jim Toulouse, engineering manager for the rail project. “The number of projects is pretty substantial and will have a pretty big impact on people trying to get around in this area.”
The Blue Line Extension’s construction schedule is anticipated to run from 2018 to 2021. The Southwest light rail is expected to begin construction later this year and run through 2020. The C Line, a rapid bus service running from Minneapolis to Brooklyn Center, is schedule for construction from 2018 to 2019. Additionally, street improvements will occur on Penn Avenue this year through 2020 and on Glenwood Avenue in 2019. Construction on Interstate 94 begins this year and continues in 2018 and work on Interstate 35W and Lake Street begins this year and continues through 2021.
Project staff members are participating in agency coordination meetings and construction staging meetings and are working to develop an interagency construction communications plan.
The committee also reviewed new design concepts for the Penn Avenue and Van White Boulevard stations.
In November 2016, Minneapolis residents provided feedback on station designs. The community desired a more unique design and a warmer or more attention-getting color palette.
Since then, project staff members looked at glass panels with a film, similar to Amundson Hall at the University of Minnesota, metal that appears to change colors depending on the viewing angle and when sunlight reflects off the panel, similar to the University’s Children’s Hospital, or stamped metal shingles, similar to the Walker Library in Minneapolis.
“We’re trying to come up with a material that provides that destination (feel),” said Alicia Vap, assistant director of Metro Transit.
Trees were another topic of discussion for the committee.
According to project staff members, more than 360 trees will be impacted along Olson Memorial Highway due to the light rail construction.
According to Vap, approximately 20 percent of the trees being removed are ash trees, which are trees most communities are removing due to Emerald Ash Borer.
“That’s a positive,” Vap said.
Of the 360 trees impacted, 50 trees will be relocated to nearby parks in north Minneapolis.
Staff members and Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board are collaborating to create a planting plan. Right now that plan includes planting trees along the boulevard to frame the street and provide an urban canopy.
One significant historical element to the project is the Floyd B. Olson Memorial Statue. The statue of Olson, a former governor of Minnesota, was erected in 1940. The statue stands near the intersection of Olson Memorial Highway and Penn Avenue. The statue must move to prevent it from being “indirectly adversely effected by construction,” but no location has been determined.
The committee’s next meeting is scheduled for April 13.

Contact Gina Purcell at [email protected]