Minnesota's Southwest Light Rail on its Last Legs

Republicans in Minnesota are ready to put the final nail in the coffin of the proposed Southwest light rail project, which would connect downtown Minneapolis to Eden Prairie.

August 22, 2016, 1:00 PM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell

Southwest LRT

On the edge of downtown Minneapolis, Royalston Avenue/Farmers Market Station would be within walking distance of the Minneapolis Farmers Market, Target Field and the Hennepin Theater District, according to the project website. | Metropolitan Council / METRO Green Line Extension project

A long-anticipated special session of the Minnesota Legislature failed to materialize, reports Briana Bierschbach, due to the controversy over a proposed $135 million funding package for the Southwest light rail transit line, also known as the METRO Green Line Extension project.

"In the end, despite other negotiating breakthroughs, Democrats could not convince Republicans to budge and allow five metro-area counties to raise the $135 million needed to pay the state’s share of the light rail line, which is needed to leverage about $900 million in federal funding," according to Bierschbach.

The light rail project is still the subject of ongoing litigation, which has been a common talking point when the rail line has hit political stumbling blocks in the past.

Though Bierschbach frames the discussion of the light rail project as a cause for the larger problem of the dysfunction of the state's elected officials, the article hints that the failure of the project could come as a consequence of that dysfunction as well. Bierschbach quotes Republican House Speaker Kurt Daudt, who says, "This is probably the end of Southwest light rail….It doesn’t mean it has to be the end forever, but it means that we should actually go back to the drawing board, start over, go through a new route analysis."

A visualization of the Southwest LRT project shows changes to the project made in 2015 and approved by Hennepin County and the cities along the route during the municipal consent process in summer 2015.

Friday, August 19, 2016 in MinnPost

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