Welder Duane Dopp of Herzog Contracting Corp. waves to a passing Hiawatha LRT train shortly before the weld occurred this afternoon on the flyover or train bridge built over Interstate 35W in Minneapolis between the Cedar Riverside and Metrodome LRT stations.
The Central Corridor Light Rail system got one weld closer to completion today, when construction crews joined Central Corridor track to the existing Hiawatha track this afternoon. It happened between the Metrodome and Cedar Riverside light rail stations.
The connection will create a 63-mile passenger rail network for the Twin Cities, 11 miles for Central, 12 miles for Hiawatha and 40 miles for Northstar. The network will increase to 78 miles when the Southwest light rail transit begins service in 2018. Southwest will enable riders to travel from Eden Prairie to downtown Minneapolis, the University of Minnesota, State Capitol and downtown St. Paul – without changing trains.
The Central Corridor light rail, now 68 percent complete, is expected to begin revenue operation in 2014. Between now and then, construction crews will finish the heavy construction, install systems to power the light rail vehicles, and finally begin testing the light rail vehicles.
Today’s weld is more than symbolic. It’s our own, updated version of the “golden spike” for the transcontinental railroad, as it connects the Twin Cities of St. Paul and Minneapolis. But more importantly, it’s an opportunity to provide environmentally friendly, affordable transit options to the residents of St. Paul, Minneapolis and beyond.