Funding Now Appears Assured for Controversial Southwest LRT

The following article by Janet Moore was published in the September 1, 2016 issue of the Star Tribune.

Funding Now Appears Assured for Controversial Southwest LRT

Extra funds are needed because the state did not fully fund the controversial LRT project. 

Over the past week, transit planners in the Twin Cities have cobbled together $145 million to salvage the Southwest light-rail line, providing a level of certainty to a project that has long been fraught with controversy.

“We will have a project,” declared Adam Duininck, chairman of the Metropolitan Council, which is spearheading the $1.9 billion light-rail line from downtown Minneapolis to Eden Prairie.

After the project failed to win financial support from a bitterly divided Legislature, the 14.5-mile line was fast running out of cash, facing staff layoffs, possible shutdown and a flagging reputation with the federal government, which is expected to pay half its cost.

On Wednesday, the Met Council threw the project a critical lifeline — approving a new funding plan that deploys an obscure financial tool called “certificates of participation” to raise $103.5 million. The Counties Transit Improvement Board (CTIB), which consists largely of elected officials from metro-area counties, and the Hennepin County Regional Railroad Authority each agreed this week to kick in an additional $20.5 million, as well.

Still, some uncertainty lingers — a lawsuit filed by Minneapolis residents seeking to block the project is pending in federal court.

To continue reading, click on the link to the Star Tribune

Funding now appears assured for controversial Southwest LRT