Opat and Lunde…..One in the Same

June 23, 2017 at 11:08 am 1 comment

By Andrew Richter

Well Mike Opat and his DFL supporter Brooklyn Park Mayor Jeff Lunde aren’t too happy the funding for their little pet project Bottineau Boulevard Ligth Rail isn’t coming anytime soon.  Now they have taken to making threats that they are “going to do something about it.”

Elected officials in the northwest suburbs want to move forward with the Bottineau Blue Line Light Rail Transit Extension project regardless of the status or future of the Southwest Green Line Extension project. Hennepin County Commissioner Mike Opat and Brooklyn Park Mayor Jeff Lunde said at a Blue Line Corridor Management Committee meeting June 15 that they are tired of the Southwest Green Line extension project holding up the Blue Line Extension, and they need to do what is in their power to advance the Bottineau project as quickly as possible.

Yes shove it down our throats.

While several barriers to the project’s completion have been passed, some funding sources for the Bottineau project remain uncertain, and the schedule for completion has been pushed back. Previous projections for the project’s revenue service opening date were for late 2021, and now the Bottineau Project opening date projection has been pushed back to mid-2022. The project office plans to apply for a federal grant in May 2018 rather than September 2017, as was previously scheduled.

The recent dissolution of the Counties Transit Improvement Board, which allowed Hennepin County to raise its sales tax by a quarter-cent to a total half-cent effective Oct. 1, 2017, will provide state and county shares of funding for both the Southwest and Bottineau lines. The move comes after a Republican-controlled Minnesota Legislature refused to provide state funding for either line during the 2017 session.

And while local funding has been committed to both projects, questions of federal transit funding under President Trump remain unanswered. The project would need to be identified in the federal budget before the Federal Transit Administration would accept an application for a full funding grant agreement.

That said, the Southwest and Bottineau Light Rail projects are two of five projects that are nationally recognized on the Federal Transit Administration’s New Starts report, according to Dan Soler, Blue Line project director. Among other issues slowing the Bottineau Line’s progress is negotiations with the Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad.

Keep Stalling!

Brooklyn Park Mayor Jeff Lunde said Brooklyn Park will take action to move the Bottineau project forward. “We’re not going to sit back anymore,” he said.


Delays on the Bottineau project, which includes reconstruction of West Broadway along the line, impact Brooklyn Park beyond transportation issues, Lunde said. “I always hear ‘Southwest, Southwest,’ and I understand it from a big picture, but my concern is that … every time there is a delay, the city delays other things,” he said, citing a water main break on West Broadway the week of the meeting.
“We have residents, we have business owners who are lining up waiting because they’re in limbo,” Lunde said.

The line also effects poverty levels, as some people in Brooklyn Park struggle to commute to high-paying jobs, Lunde said. “Every year that things get delayed, that’s just one more year of people who don’t have access to opportunity,” he said.

What? So high paying jobs are at risk from a light rail line that doesn’t exist?

Lunde said Brooklyn Park will continue to support the county and Met Council, but will launch its own lobbying efforts to drive public opinion and influence future gubernatorial candidates to support the project, regardless of what happens to Southwest. Lunde said he does not accept the position that negotiations with BNSF need to finish with Southwest before they start for Bottineau.

“One more lawsuit hits Southwest, then suddenly my city is impacted by things that we have no control over, and I think that we are done being there,” Lunde said.

“I understand Southwest needs to be built. I understand the system, but our city is waiting, and we’re done waiting,” Lunde added.
Opat said he agreed with Lunde, and that his primary concerns were the Met Council’s negotiations with BNSF. The Met Council should not take the position that Southwest negotiations should conclude before Bottineau negotiations begin, he said.

Opat and Lunde agree…..what a shock!

“Right now, clearly the decision has been made to negotiate in complete … with Southwest because that’s the way the railroad wanted it, and we’ll wait until another day to negotiate around the Blue Line,” Opat said. “And with everything in my being, I oppose that strategy.
“Waiting is what we’ve become accustomed to up here, and I’m tired of waiting,” Opat continued. “Everything we do up here ends up ‘Oh, just hang on and be patient, trust us, we’ll get to it,’” he said.

“It’s time to press on, but we should press on with some attitude for this project, because otherwise, I really think we could be sitting here another three or four years and having the same discussion,” Opat added.

The legislature and the President are clearly under the skin of this liberal and so-called Republican….I see keep it up!



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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. wants2know  |  June 23, 2017 at 11:23 am

    This project has been flawed from the very beginning and deserves to die. Perhaps it’s time to put both these men on retirement track, don’t ya think?


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