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The Metropolitan Council on Monday reached agreements with BNSF Railway Co. and the Twin Cities & Western Railroad to permit light-rail operations along the same corridor as freight operations.The pacts will enable the council to begin seeking federal funding for its planned $1.9 billion Southwest light-rail project, the Star Tribune reported earlier this week.For about 8 miles of the 14.5-mile route, light-rail trains and freight trains will operate side by side. As part of the agreements, the Met Council will pay the railroads $58.6 million to pay for property acquisition and construction in the corridor, according to the Tribune.The agreements were negotiated by the council's transportation committee. The pacts are slated to go before the full council today.In fall, the Met Council plans to apply for $929 million in federal funding for the project. Last week, Met Council Chair Alene Tchourumoff said her agency will work toward starting construction on the Southwest project in 2018. An extension of Metro Transit's Green Line, the Southwest route would run from downtown Minneapolis to St. Louis Park, Hopkins, Minnetonka and Eden Prairie, Minnesota.
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