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The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release

We Can’t Wait: Obama Administration Announces Transit Projects in Minnesota and Ohio to Be Expedited

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, as part of his We Can’t Wait initiative, President Obama announced that two nationally and regionally significant transit projects in Minneapolis, Minnesota and Cleveland, Ohio will be expedited to put Americans to work building a 21st century infrastructure and providing Minnesota and Ohio with more transportation choices.  These projects will improve local and regional connectivity and provide more transit choices for residents and commuters. Best practices, including conducting permitting and other environmental review processes concurrently instead of sequentially, are expected to shave several months off project schedules.

As part of a Presidential Executive Order issued in March of this year, the Office of Management and Budget is charged with overseeing a government-wide effort to make the permitting and review process for infrastructure projects more efficient and effective, saving time while driving better outcomes for local communities.  The Administration’s efforts to continuously add more transparency, accountability, and certainty into the permitting and review process will enable project developers and private investors to more efficiently modernize our nation’s infrastructure.   Additional expedited infrastructure projects will be announced in the coming weeks.

“Investments in infrastructure are putting people back to work in Minnesota and Ohio building and modernizing our transit systems,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. "The Obama Administration is committed to doing its part to help communities across the country move forward with these critical projects as quickly and efficiently as possible.”

Southwest Light Rail Transit
Minneapolis, MN
Coordinating Agency: Department of Transportation, Federal Transit Administration
Target date for completing Federal permit and review decisions: November 2014

The Southwest Light Rail Transitway (LRT) Project will greatly improve access to major employment centers and all area attractions for residents and commuters in greater Minneapolis by building new light rail service running between downtown Minneapolis and the southwestern suburbs out to Eden Prairie. The project, funded in part by the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), adds over 15 miles of new track as well as several new stations and park-and-ride lots. The LRT line would improve accessibility and mobility by enhancing transit travel speeds.  The LRT line would link several major activity centers, including Target Field on the corridor’s eastern end and the Eden Prairie Center Mall on the corridor’s western end.  Also, because the project would share track with the Central Corridor LRT line, it would provide a one-seat ride from Minneapolis’ southwestern suburbs via downtown Minneapolis to the State Capitol complex and downtown St. Paul. 

FTA is using an enhanced coordination process with other Federal agencies as well as exploring using the NEPA/Clean Water Act Section 404 Merger process, which is estimated to save several months by aligning multiple permit and review processes to work concurrently instead of sequentially.

University Circle – Little Italy Rapid Station
Cleveland, OH
Coordinating Agency: Department of Transportation, Federal Transit Administration
Target date for completing Federal permit and review decisions: April 2013

The Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority's University Circle-Little Italy Rapid Station project involves the relocation of an existing station at E 120th Street and construction of a new a rail transit station along with the rehabilitation of two transit track bridges at Mayfield Road. The project will integrate the station with the dense, high employment areas of the Little Italy neighborhood and University Hospitals. The project replaces an obsolete station with a new, energy efficient building, while focusing on reusing existing community resources. The project is funded in part with a Department of Transportation TIGER grant. FTA is working closely with the Greater Cleveland Transit Authority and is implementing FTA’s new internal environmental standard operating procedures to develop a focused and more efficient environmental assessment. Using these new, more efficient processes will save more than a month on the project’s timeline.