Friday, June 22, 2012

Busting the Myth of the Light Rail Construction Timeline

After living here for almost a year, I can definitely say that I have seen, lived through and been in the epicenter of the Central Corridor Light Rail construction project. Unless you are a huge construction-watching junkie (guilty), all of this construction has probably been the precursor of the apocalypse for you, especially if you spend a good number around Stadium Village and the Medical Center. And I'm sure the dirt and grime have epitomized the frustration in your mind, too. I think my favorite is night construction, when you have a test at 8:00am the next day and you hear piledriving outside of your window.

Guess it's time to get up for a midnight snack...

And, the biggest hit of all is... Everyone knows that the light rail won't be open till 2014. To which I know you say:


And my reply:

"No, Washington Avenue will be back much sooner. Do not fret, my friend."

It is well versed that the rail won't be operating until 2014, but the myth that the road construction will be going on until then at this intensity is a complete and unfortunate lie. In fact, we are closer to being out of the dust and grime of civil physical construction than you may think.

"As for keeping on schedule for fall, we are still on par", says Jessica Hill, the Minneapolis/U of M community outreach coordinator for the Central Corridor Project. She says that the hard construction will continue on campus throughout the year leading into November. However, after the lines are in place, she says that Washington Avenue will begin to resemble something other than a torn up slab. " Crews will need to keep working into November but roads and sidewalks will most likely be complete (by December)."
What does this mean for us as Golden Gophers? Well, basically, the phyiscal road will be in place by the end of this year, and will resemble something very close to what the actual street will look like when the rail does open in 2014.

After the so-called hard "civil" construction is complete later this year, most of the roadwork will be installing the overhead wires, stations, and platforms from now until mid-2013. The road will still be closed occasionally, but the barriers will be less and will look more like what Washington looks like in front of McNamara between Oak and Walnut. When the entire course of track is placed, then trains will begin testing the line early in 2014, and set for an opening date of late Spring 2014 (The schedule was a little behind schedule back in February, but the mild spring definitely helped speed it up a bit).

So, although we will all still have to live with the torn up Wash Ave for a bit longer, it certainly won't be for 2 more years. Washington will soon be walkable on both sides of the sidewalk. And of course, until it opens, we can all dream of what it will be like when it opens: