Southwest Chaos; What it Will Cost You?

September 1, 2016 at 12:57 pm Leave a comment

By Candace Oathout

So I have been watching the machinations that are being used to fund the Southwest Light Rail project. A project that lacks popular support. The immediate DFL fomented “crisis” is that the “evil” republican majority in the Minnesota State Legislature who passed both a bonding bill and a budget BEFORE the end of Session is that they are somehow obstructing the workings of government. Never mind that Governor Dayton vetoed the budget and the Senate threw in a last minute amendment to the bonding bill that was not even presented for consideration until the last 30 minutes of the Session. It’s not their fault, no they tried really hard, they really, really did.

And of course the socialists at Hennepin County are on board:

Hennepin County, partners bridge state’s funding gap for Southwest LRT Hennepin County will increase its funding commitment to the Southwest Light Rail Transit project, helping to bridge a funding gap left by the Minnesota Legislature. Acting as the Hennepin County Regional Railroad Authority, the Hennepin County Board voted Tuesday in a special meeting to increase its share of the project by $20.5 million, for a total funding commitment of $185 million, or 10 percent of the project’s capital costs.

The incestuous relationships that are the HCRRA and the Hennepin County Board keeps all state funding in the hands of very few decision makers neatly bypassing the voters and local community leaders.

Combined with a similar proposed increase by the Counties Transit Improvement Board and a promise by the Metropolitan Council to raise $103.5 million in Certificates of Participation – a financing tool used previously by the Met Council and the state – the county’s additional infusion is helping the project bridge the $144.5 million funding gap left by the state, and fulfilling the federally mandated local share. In previous years, the Legislature has contributed some funding to this project, about 1 percent. The Metropolitan Council has indicated it will wait until July 2017 to issue the certificates, in hope that a different session of the Legislature will be able to move the funding forward.

Isn’t it interesting that this “crisis” in funding that HAS to be settled RIGHT NOW will not actually have the Metropolitan Council’s participation until JULY 2017?

Shouldering the state’s share

Regional Railroad Authority Chair Peter McLaughlin agreed with comments from others on the board that it was unfair for the county to have to shoulder what should have been the state’s share. “This is not a perfect solution but it reflects a willingness by local government to act after legislative inaction,” he said. “Today’s vote keeps the project moving forward, it avoids costly delays, and it nails down missing pieces needed for the federal application that will bring more than $900 million to Hennepin County.”

Mr. McLaughlin seems to be suffering from the delusion that he has the authority and power to tell the elected Legislature what to do.

This action, coupled with tomorrow’s votes at CTIB and the Met Council ensure that the project can move forward to request matching funds from the Federal Transit Administration.

Bringing value to the region

The value of a well-integrated transit system – cars, buses, trains – exceeds the investment, in terms of connecting people with jobs, improving the environment and increasing economic competitiveness, said County Board Chair Jan Callison. “I don’t think the state of Minnesota can buy those advantages for $144 million with anything but transit,” she said.

Well it could repair or replace 144 miles of lanes to relieve congestion in the Twin Cities couldn’t it?

Already, 90 percent of the engineering and design is complete for Southwest Light Rail Transit, which runs from downtown Minneapolis to Eden Prairie. Construction is scheduled to begin in 2017. The project is expected to begin passenger service as an extension of the METRO Green Line in 2021.

Currently we have about $149 million “invested in SWLRT about 1/10 the of the total cost of construction and BEFORE OPERATIONAL COSTS!

The Counties Transit Improvement Board and the Metropolitan Council will vote on their increased shares later this week.


Entry filed under: Agenda 21, City Government, County, Hennepin, Met Council, Taxation, Transportation. Tags: , , , .

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