(Kate Hinds, Transportation Nation) Construction for the Minneapolis-St. Paul light rail project known as the Central Corridor has been underway for some time now (and AP reports the line is now 12% complete). But it wasn't until yesterday that the federal government officially signed a funding commitment to pay for half the line's almost $1 billion cost. As Ray LaHood wrote in his blog: "What I really admire about the Twin Cities community is that they didn't wait for this agreement before getting started."
The Federal Transit Administration is contributing $478 million. The rest of the money is coming from state and local sources.
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The light rail project has generated some controversy. Three lawsuits have been filed over it--including one from Minnesota Public Radio, which is concerned about rail noise affecting its broadcasting capabilities. And there have been civil rights implications as well. As Transportation Nation reported in its documentary "Back of the Bus: Race, Mass Transit and Inequality," initially the light rail line was going to go through--not stop--in the historically black Rondo neighborhood.
Service on the 11-mile light rail line is expected to begin in 2014.