Sunday, February 10, 2013
With several proposals before the Legislature, Patch wants to know what ideas, if any, you favor.
Last legislative session, the big question about Southwest Light Rail Transit was whether there was enough political will to fund the project. The tables appear to have turned this year, though. With at least three funding proposals floating around, the focus has lately been more on how to fund it than whether it deserves any money. Edina Sen. Melisa Franzen (DFL-District 49) introduced Senate File 257 and Senate File 258, which would provide $118 million and $37 million, respectively, in bonding money for the 15-mile light rail project. Watch Franzen explain her bills in the YouTube video above. Gov. Mark Dayton, on the other hand, has proposed a quarter-cent sales tax increase that would set up a dedicated revenue stream for transit—some…
Monday, January 28, 2013
The Pioneer Press reported that some east metro legislators say their regions are being left out of rail plans. Patch wants to know what you think.
Most of the recent debate over rail has been between those who want to spend more money on light rail and those who prefer spending the money on roads and buses. On Sunday, though, the Pioneer Press had a look at a light issue that hasn’t garnered as much attention: Is the east metro getting its share of rail projects? The paper notes that St. Paul’s only rail line right now is Amtrak and that the city is on track to add just one light rail line, the Central Corridor Light Rail line running between Minneapolis and St. Paul. Minneapolis, on the other hand, could someday be the starting point of the Hiawatha, Southwest, Bottineau, Central Corridor and Northstar lines. Some east metro legislators say that’s not fair. State officials and …
Thursday, January 17, 2013
Metro chambers commissioned the study to find out voters’ opinions about public transportation.
Support for the Southwest Light Rail Transit project has grown significantly over the past year and a majority of Minnesotans support a sales tax increase for transit, according to survey results announced Thursday. The memo that the bipartisan survey team produced on behalf of the TwinWest Chamber of Commerce, St. Paul Area Chamber of Commerce and Minneapolis Regional Chamber of Commerce paints a picture of widespread support for transit in both the Twin Cities and greater Minnesota. “Minnesotans understand that planning for economic growth and improving our region’s transportation system is just common sense,” a news release quoted Minneapolis Regional Chamber President Todd Klingel. “This survey shows there is strong support for …
Wednesday, December 5, 2012
Whether an increased sales tax or a new taxing jurisdiction, advocates say a reliable funding stream could insulate transit from political winds.
The Southwest Light Rail Transit project hasn’t had an easy time securing state funding over the past couple years. It faced stiff opposition from Republicans, with the former transportation committee head promising to stop the Southwest LRT "in its tracks." DFL wins in the 2012 Election bode well for the project, but there’s no way of knowing how long that will last. With the line years away from operation, and the Bottineau Transitway moving forward, some light rail advocates are questioning whether transit should rely so much on state funding. That was the question brought up multiple times Tuesday during a meeting with national and local development experts about making the most of Southwest LRT. Instituting a reliable revenue stream, …
Friday, November 2, 2012
With Hopkins High School so far from the planned light rail line, School Board Director Kris Newcomer questioned whether students would actually be able to use LRT to travel to courses offered at the University of Minnesota.
One of the benefits of the proposed Southwest Light Rail Transit line, promoters say, is that west metro high schoolers could use the line to take college classes at the University of Minnesota. School Board Director Kris Newcomer was skeptical, though. Hopkins High School is about four miles from the nearest station. At a joint meeting with the City Council on Tuesday, she wondered how the students are going to get there. The discussion centers on Southwest’s green line extension,which would allow riders to get all the way from Eden Prairie to the University of Minnesota and on to St. Paul. That’s a perfect fit for the state’s Post-Secondary Enrollment Options program, light rail advocates say. That program allows high school juniors and …
Tuesday, October 30, 2012
‘We are on the verge of finally creating a comprehensive transportation system that links the entire Twin Cities region together.’
Tuesday, October 30, 2012
Editor’s Note: The following guest column was submitted by Dan Duffy, principal with Daniel K. Duffy Architects, Inc. in Minnetonka. Duffy served on the Southwest Transitway Policy Advisory Committee and currently is a member of the Business Advisory Committee. In 2002, I was asked to represent the business community on a group asking how to best serve west metro transportation needs. Ten years later, support for Southwest Light Rail is strong and growing. Why? Because we have some of the most important economic development opportunities in the region and state. Projected job growth here requires more transportation if we are going to serve those employees and maintain our quality of life. That, in turn, means investing in both better …
Thursday, September 20, 2012
The District 46A legislator appeared on the Minnesota Senate’s Capitol Report to talk about the governor’s decision to award the project $2 million.
Rep. Ryan Winkler (DFL-District 46A) was among the harshest critics of the Department of Employment and Economic Development’s decision to score the Southwest Light Rail Transit project poorly in a competition for $47.5 million. “DEED rankings are absurd--shows no knowledge of economics or total disregard of it,” he tweeted after the scores were announced. The Metropolitan Council’s request for $14 million for the project tied for the lowest score among the 37 projects that made it past initial screening. Despite that score, Gov. Mark Dayton awarded the project $2 million to keep the plan moving forward. Winkler applauded light rail and detailed his thoughts on the process in an interview with the Minnesota Senate’s Capitol Report posted …
Tuesday, May 8, 2012
The District 44 senator criticized his colleagues’ decision to leave Southwest Light Rail Transit out of the bonding bills approved Monday.
Both chambers of the Minnesota Legislature left Southwest Light Rail Transit out of the bonding bills the House and Senate approved Monday. During the Senate debate, Sen. Ron Latz (DFL-District 44)—who represents Golden Valley, Hopkins and St. Louis Park—criticized opponents of the project for ignoring infrastructure that he argues is essential. Light rail supporters wanted the Legislature to set aside $25 million that was to be part of a $125 million total state contribution to the Southwest project. Latz argued that money would leverage millions more in federal funds, which includes a federal share of $625 million. “And while there are those who have, it appears, a moral objection to transit funding—especially rail funding—the fact is …
Wednesday, January 18, 2012
The state senator specifically praised the inclusion of $25 million for Southwest LRT.
Sen. Ron Latz (DFL-District 44) on Wednesday applauded Gov. Mark Dayton’s $775 million bonding proposal—specifically noting the inclusion of $25 million for the Southwest Light Rail project. “With a bold and targeted capital investment package, we can, as the Governor noted, help private-sector companies put many Minnesotans back to work,” a Wednesday news release quoted Latz. “If we act quickly, we can get the shovels in the ground and paychecks in the mail as soon as this summer.” Latz—whose district includes Hopkins, St. Louis Park and Golden Valley— said the light-rail funding will help residents in the southwest metro who face increasing traffic congestion. He also praised the proposal for creating jobs and investing in road and …