Legislature to East Metro: ‘No transit for you’

For seven years, Washington County taxpayers have been paying into the regional transportation pool, participating in a systemic buildout of public transportation, assured that although the priority was elsewhere, “your time will come.”

It probably won’t, if the Legislature has its way.

Although the Counties Transit Improvement Board — formed to divvy up sales tax revenue collected from Washington, Ramsey, Dakota, Hennepin and Anoka counties — has provided grants for planning a busway along Interstate 94, the Legislature has shut the door on funding the project, the Pioneer Press reports.

A transportation bill did not contain the $3 million sought for the so-called Gold Line, which would use dedicated highway lanes along I-94.

In 2008, Washington, Ramsey, Dakota, Hennepin and Anoka counties levied a 0.25 percent sales tax for the Counties Transit Improvement Board, which gathers funding for local transportation projects. But so far, (Woodbury Mayor Mary) Stephens said, nothing has been built in Washington County.

“We have been paying in, and we would like to see a return on our dollars,” she said. Other sources have delivered funds on schedule, and Stephens said she expects the state to do the same.

It’s not the end of the line for the project, which wasn’t going to be done until 2022 anyway.

But it could provide fodder for East Metro taxpayers who have occasionally been disgruntled that their sales and county wheelage tax money only pays for transit projects elsewhere.