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.