Business leaders say they’ll fight for Southwest light rail

Both the House and Senate have failed to include the Southwest light rail line from Eden Prairie to downtown Minneapolis on a list of recommended projects. Top Republicans in the House and Senate say they have concerns about the cost of building and operating the $1.25 billion line.

The Southwest light rail is among a handful of projects around the country selected to receive competitive federal grants. If the state doesn’t fund the light rail line this year, Todd Klingel, president and CEO of the Minneapolis Regional Chamber of Commerce, says the state risks losing that matching money.

“This is about jobs and this is the most powerful leveraging opportunity that they could have for anything in the bonding bill,” he says, “and that if nothing happens that opportunity could be lost.”

The state’s total share of the project is $125 million, or ten percent. Aside from the state’s share, the cost of the LRT will be paid 50 percent by the federal government, 10 percent by Hennepin County, and 30 percent from a five-county transit-dedicated sales tax.

Governor Dayton requested $25 million from lawmakers for the project in his bonding proposal. As the session gets closer to ending, discussions are sure to heat up over what would be the third light rail in the metro.

  • Tim Pilquist

    As a frequent traveller of mass transit within the Twin Cities, I would really like to see our light rail system continue to grow and expand. Traveling the same distance per person, light rail uses about 55% less energy than driving a typical car and nearly 40% less energy than diesel, non-hybrid buses.

    Constructing the light rail’s infrastructure creates jobs. The trains use less fuel and therefore less money. They are more environmentally friendly.

    With the rising cost of fuel, it would cost Minnesotans much more in the long run not to build these trains. I’m willing to pay my fair share up front to build these trains as well as to build jobs. How much is it worth to you?