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No Go! Southwest Light Rail Stiffed in President’s Budget


President Trump's 2018 budget released today contains bad news for the Met Council's pet light rail project. There's no funding for the controversial $1.9 billion Southwest Light Rail Transit line in the administration's "A New Foundation for American Greatness" budget just unveiled. The spending plan follows through on previous  announcements by federal transportation officials that only transit projects with Full Funding Grant Agreements (FFGA) in place by October 2016 would receive funding. The proposed Southwest Light Rail line does not have such a funding agreement, leaving it ineligible for $929 million in federal construction funds under the new administration's policy. Federal Transit...

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All the reasons the Met Council screwed up $BIG TIME by forcing light rail

O'Toole TM Met Council cover 4.17

The latest issue of the Center’s fantastic quarterly magazine, Thinking Minnesota, has a terrific piece by transportation expert Randal O’Toole that delineates all the reasons the Met Council screwed up BIG TIME by forcing light rail on everyone.  If you didn’t receive your issue in the mail be sure to send your name and address to to get your FREE subscription. Fun facts revealed include that the word “light” in light rail doesn’t refer to weight (light-rail cars weigh more than heavy-rail cars) but to capacity as light rail is, by definition, low-capacity transit.  Also, for the same cost as...

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Transportation Omnibus Bill: VETOED

congested road

There is a lot to like in terms of spending for roads, airports and freight. In fact, it follows and improves on the Center’s 2015 Policy Blueprint. The bill includes bonding and eliminates funding for passenger rail. Here’s the big concession: metro counties are given the power to raise the local transit sales tax to half a cent to pay for building and operating transit without a referendum. ...

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Quick update on transit and transportation issues at the Capitol


Revised: The end of session actions taken by Republicans are somewhat disorienting given the fact that the transportation bill coming out of the House was very good and the signals from the Senate seemed good, as well. Then it went to conference committee. What came out was very different. Before the Legislature got the bill ready to send to Gov. Dayton today, apparently leadership opted to anticipate what Dayton would do, and removed most if not all offending language....

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Is Southwest LRT going to derail the transportation bill again?

Thomas the Tank off tracks

Minnesota does not have to have a transportation bill this year. Just like last year, there is tax and bonding money in the pipeline so a lot of things can get handled anyway. But we have not had a bill in years and the roads I drive on are worthy of the third world. You may recall that Southwest LRT threw the session into chaos in the Senate last year. That meant the transportation bill tanked and the entire state got nothing for roads or transit, all because of a slavish devotion by Metro DFLer’s to one $2 billion train....

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Federal and Local Funding Still in Doubt for Southwest Light Rail


The sigh of relief by Met Council brass over a $10 million New Starts federal grant that keeps the Southwest Light Rail line on life support illustrates just how jittery the regional agency has become over the fate of the controversial $1.9 billion project. But the troubled line still faces significant obstacles in Washington and St. Paul that threaten to derail funding and approval of the project. The funding announcement became news as part of the federal budget deal reached by Congress over the weekend. Some initial reports gave the impression that Congress had fully funded the project and directed the US...

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Don’t Put Light Rail on Next Generation’s Credit Card

Debt Load

Not only is light rail transit ineffective in combating congestion, it's also expensive, adding billions to the national debt. The US Department of Transportation has signaled that future transit projects should be locally funded by the people who use them. That puts the controversial Southwest Light Rail Transit line in limbo. American Experiment's Kim Crockett makes the case that SWLRT only saddles the next generation with our financial burdens in a MinnPost column. We are not just taking out loans for ourselves; we are taking out loans on behalf of our kids and grandkids. How are future generations supposed to pay for...

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A response to Hopkins real estate developer: Southwest LRT is a sweetheart deal for developers, terrible deal for taxpayers

Thomas the Tank off tracks

Hopkins real estate developer Kelly Doran wrote an enraged commentary in the Star Tribune when he heard that 84 state legislators had asked the FTA and Congress to kill Southwest LRT. Stuart Chazin from Minneapolis Lakes and Parks Alliance wrote a great response. Are taxpayers supposed to fund billions in capital costs and tens of millions a year in operating costs, then replace it all again in 25 years, for LRT that does nothing to relieve congestion because developers are relying on the project? We think not. ...

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