St. Louis Park wins about $3.5 million in federal grants

About $3.5 million in federal funding will travel to St. Louis Park to provide paths connecting to planned light rail stations.

The Metropolitan Council’s Transportation Advisory Board selected two projects in St. Louis Park as winners.

The city will receive $2.9 million for a Dakota Edgewood Trail over the BNSF freight rail line. The trail would continue on to the Southwest Light Rail Transit Wooddale Station.

St. Louis Park will receive another $560,000 to better accommodate pedestrians near the planned Southwest Light Rail Transit Beltline Station.

The Dakota Edgewood Trail would connect parts of St. Louis Park north of the BNSF rail tracks to sections south of the tracks, including Peter Hobart Elementary School. The new trail would connect with the existing North Cedar Lake Regional Trail that runs parallel to the freight rail tracks.

The new north-south trail corridor would accommodate bicyclists and pedestrians along Dakota Avenue before running on to the Wooddale Station. Plans also call for a bicycle and pedestrian facility along Edgewood Avenue to Cedar Lake Road, according to a city statement.

The upgrades for pedestrians near the planned Beltline Station include the addition of sidewalks along Lynn Avenue, Ottawa Avenue and County Road 25 frontage roads. Improved pedestrian crossings would be added along Beltline Boulevard and Lynn Avenue where the city streets meet the county road, which becomes Highway 7 farther west.

Additionally, the city would add a facility for pedestrians and bicyclists on the west side of Beltline Boulevard between the station and West 36th Street, according to the city statement.

“These projects will enhance bike and pedestrian safety in the city and improve connections to key destinations, including schools, shops, jobs and transit,” said Gail Dorfman, a St. Louis Park resident who represents the area on the Metropolitan Council. “Bravo to the city council and staff for continuing to build toward a seamless network of sidewalks, trails and bridge crossings that unite our community and provide easy access to all that St. Louis Park has to offer.”

The Met Council board approved 58 of the 150 applications submitted for the federal funds. The regional council will distribute $208 million in federal funds.

St. Louis Park will contribute funds for the two projects selected in the city. City leaders plan to use bonds to pay for a match of about $730,000 for the Dakota Edgewood Trail, for a total project cost of more than $3.6 million.

The city would also use bonds to pay for a match of $140,000 for the Beltline Station pedestrian improvements, bringing the total project amount to $700,000.

“The fact that St. Louis Park was able to secure funding for these important projects in a very competitive environment speaks to the forward-thinking work that our community and city staff has done in planning for a 21st-century transportation system, one that will serve our neighbors for the coming 50 to 100 years,” Mayor Jake Spano said. “This funding also recognizes the important role St. Louis Park plays in a regional transportation network. We look forward to the continued growth of this system that serves all Minnesotans.”

The Met Council’s board selected highway, bridge, transit, bicycle and pedestrian projects in the seven-county metropolitan region as part of the award of federal funds.

The Met Council provided the funding through the federal government’s 2016 Regional Solicitation process, which called for applications for projects scheduled between 2018 and 2021. Between 10 percent and 20 percent of the total funds provided to the Met Council could be awarded to bicycle and pedestrian projects.

“The process of allocating these federal dollars to metro area transportation projects is rigorous and requires the dedication of so many partners,” Metropolitan Council Chair Adam Duininck said. “This collective commitment to reviewing and approving projects that benefit the region is remarkable. I commend all the various participants for their dedication.”

Contact Seth Rowe at [email protected]