Officials gather to break ground on historic Southwest light rail project

- Touted as the future of Twin Cities transit, federal, state and local leaders broke ground on the Southwest light rail project Friday.

The groundbreaking comes after more than two decades of planning for the project.

“The governor stuck with us, folks, he really stuck with us,” said Peter McLaughlin, a Hennepin County Commissioner. “And this would not be happening today without Gov. Dayton being willing to have faith in this project and have faith in all of you out there and in the bigger vision for the state of Minnesota.”

The project, led by the Metropolitan Council, is the largest infrastructure development in Minnesota history.

Linking 16 stations on 14.5 miles, the line will operate from downtown Minneapolis through St. Louis Park, Hopkins, Minnetonka and Eden Prairie.

“Southwest LRT will help open doors to economic opportunity for so many by eliminating the mobility barrier that they face in accessing these thousands of jobs in our region,” said Sen. Amy Klobuchar, who attended the groundbreaking.

The project will cost more than $2 billion to build and will create more than 7,000 jobs. Officials hope it will dramatically transform the landscape of transit in the Twin Cities for years to come.

“Already, we’ve seen nearly a half billion dollars in economic development happen in anticipation of this new project and we expect that this is going to expand to more than $2 billion in economic development opportunities, showing that this kind of investment that we do together with the community, benefits the entire community,” said Sen. Tina Smith.

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