SWLRT Approved, Is Bottineau Blue Line Extension Next?
The Southwest Light Rail Project has a green light, which bodes well for the future of the Bottineau Blue Line Extension. Project Director Dan Soler says wins by DFL candidates in the November election might help the project secure needed funding.
“It helps us on the federal side,” Soler said. “On the local side certainly having a democratic house and a democratic governor will help us hopefully move the project along as well.”
Sharing the rails
Getting political funding would be huge for the Blue Line Extension. But there is one more hoop the project has to jump through.
Bottineau officials must convince the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway that sharing a rail corridor is a good thing for both parties – like it is in other US cities.
“We can allow them to continue to serve their customers and provide the service that they do today,” Soler said. “At the same time we are able to operate freight next to them.”
Eminent domain is not normally the process in these situations. Instead both sides need to come to the table.
“The legal issues, the property issues,” Soler said. “The engineering issues, the operations issues and all of those pieces.”
Meanwhile, Brooklyn Park, Crystal, Robbinsdale and Golden Valley are eager for light rail and believe it will jump start growth along the lines through their cities.
“They’re absolutely on board to see this happen,” Soler said. “We’re excited to work with them to make this a go, so yes they’ve been wonderful.”
If the Blue Line Extension gets final approval, officials are hoping the project could be finished by 2023 or 2024.