“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.

Minnesota needs to appropriate $25 million to keep SW Light Rail moving

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.

“This is do or die this session,” Metropolitan Council member Jennifer Mundt told the community meeting in Eden Prairie.

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 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.

Bill Sorem

Bill Sorem is a longtime advertising professional who started with Campbell Mithun and ended up with his own agency. After a tour as a sailing fleet manager in the Virgin Islands he turned to database programming as an independent consultant. He has written sailing guides for the British Virgin Islands and Belize, and written for a number of blogs. In 2010, he volunteered as a citizen journalist with The UpTake and has stayed on as a video reporter.

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