Editorial Counterpoint: Southwest LRT Plans Unrealistic

The following Editorial Counterpoint by Bob “Again” Carney, Jr., was published in the July 13, 2015 edition of the Star Tribune.  Bob Carney, Jr. is a transit advocate in Minneapolis.

Editorial Counterpoint: Southwest LRT Plans Unrealistic

Amid tight budget, it’s clear state’s transit challenge will not be solved next year.


DAVID JOLES • Star Tribune files 2011
A light-rail car in the Twin Cities.

In two recent editorials this paper lamented the 2015 Legislature’s failure to meet Minnesota’s transportation challenges and celebrated the latest not-dead-yet Southwest light-rail plan, wrapped in shiny new duct tape (“Minnesota sputters in roads, transit race,” July 6; “Civic sacrifice keeps Southwest on track,” July 8).

Those editorials are unrealistic. Let’s survey what the Legislature and Gov. Mark Dayton could agree to next year — and what is out of reach.

Fortunately our state transportation commissioner — self-described “old bus guy” Charlie Zelle — is respected and trusted by all.

Zelle told the House Transportation Committee in January that without reliable funding he could not responsibly choose more expensive but also more cost-effective options. When a budget is too tight, only short-term band-aid solutions are possible. DFL Rep. Ron Erhardt — a former Republican Transportation Committee Chair — took Zelle’s cue, proposing a constitutional amendment to permanently dedicate new funding. Expanded bonding authority could be included in that amendment.

To continue reading, click on the Star Tribune link:   http://www.startribune.com/editorial-counterpoint-southwest-lrt-plans-unrealistic/313410201/