Hennepin County awards interchange design-build contract

Hennepin County is redefining how a transportation hub can be more than just a station where trains, buses, bikers and pedestrians connect.

On June 26, the Hennepin County Board of Commissioners awarded a $72 million Interchange Design-Build contract to the Knutson Construction team including architects, contractors and engineers. Design and construction is scheduled to begin in July and will generate more than 300 full-time jobs through the construction period.

Once construction is completed in 2014, The Interchange will be a bustling urban park, transit station and neighborhood gathering space. This one-of-a-kind destination will connect approximately 500 trains arriving and departing daily via the METRO Blue Line (Hiawatha LRT), METRO Green Line (Central Corridor LRT) and Northstar Commuter Rail, as well as more than 1,900 daily bus trips, and miles of bike and walking trails.

"The Interchange project shows our dedication to building out the vision of a regional rail network, complete with a 21st Century multi-modal transportation hub," said Hennepin County Commissioner Peter McLaughlin.

The Interchange design highlights open, flexible public spaces that bring together transit and urban culture into a one-of-a-kind transit station that enhances commuters’ experience and promotes stronger neighborhoods. The Interchange will include an urban neighborhood plaza, with areas available for neighborhood bars and eateries, cultural and entertainment spaces and community events.

This unique urban area will hold natural, recreational and entertainment spaces, including the Great Lawn, which will be the heart of the Interchange: a large green "’stage,’" providing new opportunities for large pre-game events, community concerts, seasonal events, as well as a space for individual activities. The Great Lawn will create valuable green space and a new park for downtown, and 250 parking spaces underneath. In the winter, steam from the Hennepin Energy Recovery Center will melt snow and ice from walkways, paths and stairs.

An amphitheater and informal seating area will form The Cascade. The Cascade will be a flexible open space that will provide year-long entertainment and recreation opportunities, including a place for informal lunch meetings between friends or clients, street fairs, or an impromptu concert arena.

For more information, visit www.theinterchange.net.