You test 16 hours, and what do you get....

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January 19, 2004 // UPDATED 2:38 pm - April 24, 2007
By: Sarah McKenzie
Sarah McKenzie

The sleek yellow-and-white light-rail transit train cutting through Downtown along the 5th Avenue track will become a more familiar scene as crews step up testing of the LRT system this month, gearing up for partial service scheduled to start in April.

Crews are testing the trains 16 hours a day and plan to push that to 20 hours to gear up for opening day, said Joshua Collins, Hiawatha Project Office community outreach specialist.

"We still have a lot of work to do, and we also need to train our operators who are going to be running the trains," Collins said. "The trains are performing very well. We don't have any major problems."

The increased testing coincides with stepped-up police patrols along Downtown's stretch of the Hiawatha Light Rail Corridor -- a 12-mile line connecting Downtown to the Mall of America in Bloomington.

Metro Transit police officers started saturation patrols earlier this month designed to deter motorists and walkers from parking along the tracks or jaywalking. By Jan. 6, traffic enforcement officers had issued 57 warnings and 10 tickets along the LRT line.

"We have already seen an increase of people obeying those traffic rules. The word is getting out," Collins said. "It's helpful for people to see police in greater numbers out there enforcing these driving rules. It tells people who are intentionally breaking the rules that we are serious about this now."

Source: Joshua Collins, community outreach specialist with the Hiawatha Project Office