At the start of the 2015 legislative session, the Governor, as well as Democrats and Republicans in both the House and the Senate, expressed their interest in dealing with Minnesota’s mounting transportation issues. However, with all the conversations on roads and bridges, some in the legislature are ignoring the importance of the Southwest Light Rail Transit (SW LRT) project.
This project would run between Eden Prairie and Minneapolis, and would serve as a catalyst for business development along its 16 mile route, alleviate traffic congestion on several highways, and is expected to serve nearly 34,000 riders every work-week. The Southwest Light Rail project is already in its late design stage with construction slated to begin in 2016 and it is important to keep the momentum going. A large part of the construction funding comes from the federal government, which is dependent on the state contributing roughly $165 million dollars.
Republican House Speaker Kurt Daudt has already publicly stated he will not support funding this important project. This is unacceptable. It means almost a billion dollars of federal money would leave Minnesota and go to other communities with more forward-thinking leaders who support mass transit. Sen. Ron Latz (DFL-St. Louis Park) intends to fight to make sure that the Southwest Light Rail Project comes to fruition.
“After spending $44 million dollars of state money on this important project, it is incredibly frustrating that some in the legislature would throw that money away and not support this going forward. This is unacceptable both to me and the 63,000 people this transit system would support.” Sen. Latz continues, “I will introduce legislation that will fully fund the Southwest Light Rail project, harnessing the federal funds and creating a truly 21st century transit system in the southwest metro. It is time for the legislature to step up and fulfil its part of the bargain.”
The legislation funding the Southwest Light Rail is expected to be introduced by Senator Latz next week.