The federal government last week officially agreed to cover half the nearly $1 billion cost for the 11-mile Central Corridor light-rail line that will connect the downtowns of Minneapolis and St. Paul.

Local officials were eagerly awaiting the formal federal commitment to provide $478 million in financing for the line that will run through the capitol complex and the University of Minnesota. The funds would arrive in installments, so some officials remain worried over the future timing of payments due to federal budgetary pressures and partisan politics.

Congress has already earmarked $45 million and the 2012 budget proposal includes another $200 million. The project is being overseen by the Twin Cities Metropolitan Council. Preliminary construction to relocate utility lines and other design work is underway. Minnesota, the transit board, and regional rail agencies are covering the remaining costs.

The state Counties Transit Improvement Board late last year approved Hennepin County’s issue of $110 million of bonds, primarily to help cover a portion of the local share of the project.

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