The following article by Patrick Condon was published in the August 26, 2016 edition of the Star Tribune.
Dayton, Met Council Seek to Revive Southwest Light Rail Prospects
Taxpayers in the Twin Cities area would be on the hook for an additional $145 million to salvage the Southwest Light Rail Transit project from State Capitol gridlock, under a newly unveiled plan that Gov. Mark Dayton endorsed Thursday.
Dayton led a three-hour public meeting Thursday about the future of the beleaguered Southwest line, a proposed light-rail link between downtown Minneapolis and Eden Prairie. Supporters touted its benefits and critics questioned its cost and effectiveness as a deadline approaches to secure needed federal funding for the $1.9 billion venture.
“We’re at the point where we need action or we’re in trouble,” said Hennepin County Commissioner Peter McLaughlin, a key player in the push for the project.
The fate of SWLRT, the next spoke of an envisioned metrowide transit system, has been in question since Dayton, his Senate DFL allies and the House Republican majority failed to agree on a much larger package of tax cuts, transportation and infrastructure improvements. GOP House Speaker Kurt Daudt in particular has harshly criticized the project, and its funding is poised to be a campaign issue in legislative elections around the state this fall.
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