For the first time ever, a light rail train made the journey from Minneapolis into downtown St. Paul on the new Green Line tracks.
Sunday's venture was only a test, but it gave everyone a brief look at what's to come and generated plenty of excitement. Members of the community ran out of businesses to take photos and video as the train came through.
The test run was a reported success, and the mission is now to get passengers on board by the middle of next year.
Mike Hatzistamoulous has been grilling up steaks at his University Avenue restaurant for 27 years, and already believes he's got the best location for the best steak house. Not to mention, he thinks it will be even better once the light rail trains come through this corridor with passengers on board starting sometime in 2014.
"When the first stop comes out here next year, I will be on light rail and I'll be ready to cook. Come on in and eat some steaks," Hatzistamoulous said.
Hatzistamoulous was so excited when he saw the light rail test Sunday morning that he rushed out from behind the counter to snap a photo -- and he wasn't alone.
"Eventually it will run stadium from stadium. You don't have to be drinking and driving, you can take your kids for a modest price, go back and forth -- it's going to be the best thing possible," local Lowertown artist Ta-Coumba Aiken said.
"Everybody can't wait. They're wishing it was this year," Lowertown resident Barbara Dodge said of the excitement.
Sunday's test run was an opportunity for Metropolitan Council crews to make sure the trains didn't have any issues with height clearance. There's no electricity along what will be known as the Green Line at this point, so the cars literally had to be pushed the 10 miles between Minneapolis and St. Paul. Further testing is expected later in the year.
"It's one of the steps. There are many, but for those of us who have been working on the project, and for those businesses and people who live along the line and have had to put up with construction, I think this was a fun day. There was a lot of excitement," Metropolitan Council project communications manager Laura Baenen said.
She reports that the nearly $1 billion Central Corridor project is now 92 percent complete. All the heavy construction is finished, the 18 stations are up, and now we've seen our first train on the tracks.
"I've seen everything. There is not a thing I haven't seen, but most exciting thing I see, it was today. I saw the light rail going up University. It was so nice and smooth and I love it," Hatzistamoulous said.
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