Contractors in Limbo While Southwest LRT Waits for Federal Funding Promise
The editorial board of the Star Tribune explains the status of the controversial and highly contested Southwest Light Rail Corridor project in the Twin Cities:
It’s been more than two months since every state and local hurdle was cleared to build a $2 billion extension of the Metro Transit Green Line, otherwise known as Southwest light rail. Since then, the Metropolitan Council officials who are driving this train have been watching for the federal signal that would allow the start of construction.
The Metropolitan Council had hoped for action from the federal government by the end of September, when two civil contractor bids were expired. With no word from the federal level, the Metropolitan Council requested an extension. One of two potential contractors accepted the extension.
The editorial board notes that the Metropolitan Council is hardly the only transit planning authority in the country waiting on the Federal Transit Administration for funding. Transit for America is tracking the status of multiple projects in Minnesota and around the country waiting for funding from the federal level to proceed.
The Southwest Light Rail Corridor isn’t as far along as projects that were promised funding by Congress (and President Trump's signature, for that matter). "The Met Council isn’t asking the FTA to start the flow of federal dollars in the next 45 days. All it seeks this year is a promise that if it starts spending its own funds — up to a requested $187.3 million — the FTA will provide reimbursement under a larger grant due to be awarded next year."
The editorial concludes with a call for political support from Third District Republican U.S. Rep. Erik Paulsen.