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The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) yesterday authorized the Minneapolis-area Green Line extension to move into the engineering phase.Project staff now can begin finalizing designs in preparation for the start of construction in 2017, according to a press release issued by the Metropolitan Council, which oversees transit in the Twin Cities.Earlier this year, the FTA cleared the project's environmental review, which paved the way for project staff to prepare bid documents for heavy construction. The project office plans to issue construction bids in early 2017.Also known as the Southwest Light-Rail Transit (LRT) project, the 14.5-mile extension is expected to cost $1.858 billion, with the FTA slated to cover half through a full-funding grant agreement.In February 2017, the Met Council plans to apply for the grant agreement and anticipates approval by July."We continue full steam ahead on the Southwest LRT project," said Met Council Chair Adam Duininck. "The continued confidence and support from the FTA underscores this project's strength as an efficient and effective way to connect people with jobs and expand opportunities in our region."Meanwhile, the FTA also this week approved adding a train station at North Carolina Central University as part of the Durham-Orange light-rail transit project. The FTA's "amended record of decision" follows a supplemental environmental assessment and 30-day public comment period on the proposed extension.In September, GoTriangle — the agency providing public transit service to Wake, Durham and Orange counties in North Carolina — announced that it would work with the FTA to evaluate the possibility of connecting the light-rail line to the university.With the FTA's approval, the line now will be 17.7 miles long and support nearly 27,000 passenger trips a day by 2040.
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