ST. PAUL (June 14, 2014) — The Twin Cities metro area’s second light rail line, the METRO Green Line (formerly called the Central Corridor) opened Saturday morning to much fanfare from residents and elected officials alike.
The Hmong Cultural Center had a place on the organizing committee led by the Asian Economic Development Association for the celebration event at Western Station.
`“It was a very exciting morning,” said Dr. Mark Pfeifer, editor of the Hmong Studies Journal, and Director of Programs and Development at Hmong Cultural Center of Minnesota. “I was privileged to be on the very first Westbound train from Western Station this morning with Ward 1 Citycouncilman Dai Thao, State Rep. Rena Moran, Ramsey County Commissioner Toni Carter and other dignitaries.”
The line, which was delivered by the Metropolitan Council on time and on budget, is the largest completed public works project in Minnesota history at a total cost of $957 million.
The construction of the METRO Green Line employed 5,500 people and created 200 permanent new operations jobs. Construction spurred more than $2.5 billion in development along the line. Starting today, the METRO Green Line will offer safe, reliable and high quality travel options 24 hours a day to the residents of this region.
“This is a new beginning for our region as this Green Line forever links our two great cities, better connects thousands of workers to their jobs, and attracts thousands of new residents who want to live along this line,” said Susan Haigh, Chair of the Metropolitan Council. “Transit is fundamentally about connecting — connecting one neighborhood to another, one city to another, a working mom to quality child care, a college student to classes, baseball fans to the stadium, and employers to their employees. Implementing a comprehensive transit vision makes us a stronger, healthier and more connected metro region.”
“With more than 3.2 million residents in the Minneapolis – Saint Paul area and thousands more expected in the coming decades, expanding transportation choices is critical to the region’s success,” said U.S. Department of Transportation Acting Under Secretary of Transportation for Policy Peter Rogoff. “Projects like the new Green Line will make a huge difference for hardworking families, students, and seniors who deserve reliable transportation options to get to work, school and other opportunities.”
“The completion of the Green Line is a crucial step in moving Minnesota’s transportation system into the 21st century,” U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) said. “I was proud to help deliver the federal funds for the Green Line and I will continue to support projects that bring greater transportation accessibility and economic development opportunities to Minnesota.”
“The Green Line is an exciting – and critically important – new investment in our economic future that will go a long way toward creating jobs and development across our region,” said U.S. Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.). “It will connect residents with their workplaces, consumers with businesses, and get families where they need to go. It provides a much-needed boost to our transportation infrastructure that will enhance Minnesota’s competitiveness and bring new opportunities to our state. I will continue to support these types of investments that are key to our future prosperity.”
“The Green Line is about our future — building a stronger connection between Saint Paul and Minneapolis and our region — because we know that our future is stronger together as the Twin Cities,” said Congresswoman Betty McCollum (D-Minn.).
“The Central Corridor is a transformative project for the Twin Cities,” Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) said. “I am looking forward to riding the train between Minneapolis and Saint Paul. It will be much better than sitting in traffic on 94. Folks throughout the Twin Cities will now have a faster and more wallet-friendly way to get to work, visit their friends and go to school. The Central Corridor showcases Minnesota’s leadership and reduces air pollution through investment in transit alternatives. We should thank the workers, engineers, and all of our elected officials who worked together for many years to make this project happen.”
“Over 20 years ago, Ramsey County Regional Railroad Authority faced a challenge – to turn the vision to reconnect Saint Paul and Minneapolis by rail into reality,” said Ramsey County Board of Commissioners Chair Jim McDonough. “After decades of collaboration among community, business and government partners, the Green Line launch celebrates the realization of that long-held vision and holds the promise of robust connections for neighborhoods to education, employment and social opportunities.”
“The Green Line re-twins the Twin Cities and by reinforcing the connection between Minneapolis and Saint Paul, the line will be a critically important factor in sustaining the economic competitiveness of our metropolitan area,” said Hennepin County Commissioner and Counties Transit Improvement Board Chairman Peter McLaughlin.
“We don’t often get the chance to be present at such historic moments,” said Saint Paul Mayor Chris Coleman. “The best part of all is that we have had hundreds of hands around the table, working in partnership on a monumental task. People came from every part of our community and asked, ‘What can I do?’ Together, we did it and together we will continue to forge ahead.”
“The Green Line is a shining example of the impact public investment in rail can have on economic development,” said Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges. “Our public investment in the public good is what makes Minneapolis, Saint Paul, and our entire region a place people want to come to and choose to invest in. Transit investment grows jobs, housing and economic development; it revitalizes corridors; and it is critical to the inclusive growth we need to foster in Minneapolis. The Green Line showcases the connection and partnership between Minneapolis and Saint Paul, and I am eager for the opportunities that will flow from it.”
“Interstate 94 devastated St. Paul’s African American community,” said visual artist Seitu Jones. “Many of my elders vowed not to let that happen again without some resistance and questions. Without that resistance, there would not be three additional stations along the Green Line. As a resident of the Central Corridor, I can say that my neighbors and I are working toward creating communities built on opportunity and equity. We will be watching and ready to raise more questions and will continue to advocate for a fair and just city.”
Following the ribbon cutting, passengers boarded Green Line trains at nine celebration stations. The line will serve Minneapolis and St. Paul 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
The METRO Green line was constructed with funding from the U.S. Department of Transportation, the State of Minnesota, the Counties Transit Improvement Board, Hennepin County Regional Railroad Authority, Ramsey County Regional Railroad Authority, the City of Saint Paul and the Metropolitan Council.