The following article by Janice Bitters was published in the August 31, 2016 edition of Finance and Commerce
CTIB Approves More Funding for Southwest LRT Route
The Counties Transit Improvement Board on Wednesday committed an additional $20.5 million in funding for the Southwest light rail transit line and agreed to finance $11.75 million in certificates of participation to keep the project moving.
Certificates of participation are similar to bonding but often come with more risk and higher interest rates.
The $1.858 billion line linking Minneapolis to Eden Prairie faces a $144.5 million funding gap. Without Wednesday’s 6-4 vote by the regional transit funding board, the project would have begun shutting down as of Sept. 1, according to Adam Duininck, chair of the Metropolitan Council.
But Wednesday’s vote was only the second of three decisions by local funders needed to keep the project from being delayed or canceled.
On Tuesday, the Hennepin County Regional Railroad Authority board also agreed to increase its funding commitment by $20.5 million in a 6-1 vote.
The Met Council on Wednesday night was scheduled to decide whether to finance $91.75 million in certificates of participation to fill the remaining funding gap on the line.
The Southwest line has been a major point of disagreement for Minnesota planners and legislators. State leaders earlier this year couldn’t agree on funding the line, derailing a bonding bill in both the regular session and in talks for a special session.
It committed an additional $20.5 million in funding for the line