The following article by Dylan Thomas was published and updated in the September 9, 2016 Southwest Journal.
Dayton Pushes SWLRT Funding Solution
Stopgap would replace state dollars with county and Met Council funds.
Gov. Mark Dayton and Metropolitan Council Chair Adam Duininck unveiled their stopgap funding solution for Southwest light rail Thursday.
Facing a potential idling of the Southwest Light Rail Transit project next month, Gov. Mark Dayton and Metropolitan Council Chair Adam Duininck on Thursday unveiled a stopgap funding solution to keep the $1.86-billion project on track.
The plan involves Met Council, the Counties Transit Improvement Board and Hennepin County partnering to contribute an additional $144.5-million to the project. That amount would cover the state’s unfulfilled 10-percent commitment to the 14.5-mile extension of the Metro Green Line between Minneapolis and Eden Prairie, plus additional costs incurred due to delays.
“I believe this project is in the best interests of the metropolitan region, I believe it’s in the best interests of Minnesota and it is very important that it go forward,” Dayton said Thursday. He said the plan was hammered-out in an eight-hour meeting in his office just the day before.
Met Council is poised to submit its application for a $928.5-million Federal Transit Administration grant meant to cover half the cost of SWLRT, but it needs to shore-up local financial commitments first. Duininck said he was “cautiously optimistic” the boards of all three bodies would approve the plan — which involves the sale of certificates of participation, a form of government financing similar to bonding — by Wednesday.
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