"Do Or Die" Time For Twin Cities SW Light Rail

Minnesota’s opportunity to get a light rail transit line for only 10 percent of the cost may go away if the legislature doesn’t act soon.

Southwest Light Rail Transit would be the third line in metro area light rail system. The Hiawatha Line was the first and the Central Corridor scheduled to open in 2014. The long range plan for the Southwest LRT is to begin building in 2014 and start riding in 2018.

Transit for Livable Communities sponsored a community meeting at the Eden Prairie Library to present the case for LRT and to seek citizen support with the legislators.

The total cost of the SW Light Rail project is $1.25 billion. Minnesota’s share is 10 percent or $125 million. $25 million is needed this year to keep the program on track. Neither the house nor senate bonding bills include that $25 million.

Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton is a strong supporter of the SW LRT, but the funding has to come from the legislature. The last legislative session there was a proposal to cut transit funding by 85%. None of the Republican legislators in the area that would be served by the line will support the bonding although some admit privately that they favor it, but the party caucus is dead set against it.

All of the Chambers of Commerce in the area strongly support SW LRT as do many of the business in the area. UnitedHealth Group already has begun major developments near the proposed stations.

County Commissioner Jan Callison and Metropolitan Council member Jennifer Mundt talked about the history of the project and the importance of moving now. Failure of the state to begin the financing, $25 million now, ultimately $125 million moves the project way into the future.

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