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Central Corridor LRT Construction Hits Half-Way Mark

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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — St. Paul could be the construction capital of the state after construction of the Central Corridor light rail has hit the half-way mark.

Dan Soler, the director of Transit Systems Design and Construction, pointed out the progress Friday, which is most visible at the Union Depot Station in just outside of downtown St. Paul.

“The tracks are in the center and you’ll see there are two sets of tracks and there is a platform on either side,” Soler said.

He’s behind what not long ago was just a blueprint to build 10 miles of track on the 11-mile stretch linking Minneapolis and St. Paul.

“Now, we are finally seeing it coming up out of the ground, and it’s very exciting,” he said.

The Union Depot station is where the rail will begin and end. Nearby, Ramsey County is also planning a sister project with future bus and Amtrak train hubs as well.

Soler says 2012 will be the busiest construction year yet.

On Cedar and 7th Street, crews removed roads, sidewalks and gutters. Along the way, they’ve encountered urban archeology as they unearthed old streetcar tracks and century-old utilities not marked on maps, which Soler calls a challenge.

“For the most part, we are building this in and on top of existing infrastructure”” he said.

On University Avenue near Menards, they must lower the road to fit the trains under a bridge.

In Prospect Park, roadway removal is mostly complete and tracks expected sometime this summer.

On the East Bank on Washington Avenue, crews are relocating utilities and removing pavement. They may lay tracks in April.

Still, Soler says all 18 stations along the Central Corridor LRT will be finished this year. The rail is on track for service in 2014.

“I’ve been working on it every day it seems like the last five to six years, and I’m very happy to see it continuing,” Soler said.

By the end of the year, the work on the Central Corridor will be 75 percent complete. Soler says 2013 will be spent focusing on the electrical work needed to run the rail.

In about 15 years, the Central Corridor is expected to see 40,000 riders a day. To learn more about the project, click the link: www.centralcorridor.org. For the latest on construction-related bus stop closures, click here: www.metrotransit.org/construction.

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