Mpls approves Southwest LRT, paving way for legislature to wrangle over funding

SouthwestLRT.jpg
Images via Met Council and Mulad on Flickr
A map of the Southwest LRT line's proposed route.
Today, the Minneapolis City Council followed its counterparts in Eden Prairie, Minnetonka, Hopkins, and St. Louis Park in approving the proposed alignment of the Southwest LRT line.

After years of city-level wrangling, the 9-3 vote (council members Barb Johnson, Cam Gordon, and Lisa Goodman voted 'no') paves the way for the drama to shift to the legislature next year, as the state still needs to figure out how to fund 10 percent of the $1.653 billion public works project, which is the most expensive in state history.

See also:
Condo residents disappointed, but resigning themselves to SWLRT agreement

The funding breakdown is as follows -- 50 percent from the feds, 10 percent from the state, 30 percent from the five-county Counties Transit Improvement Board, and 10 percent from the Hennepin County Regional Railroad Authority.

Asked if Hennepin County's involvement in all five of those entities means it's reasonable to infer Hennepin County taxpayers will pay more for Southwest LRT than taxpayers from any other county, Meredith Vadis, communications director for the Metropolitan Council, says, "I guess you could go there."

Hennepin County and the Transit Improvement Board have already committed their full share of the project funding, and it doesn't sound as though officials expect to have too much trouble obtaining federal dollars. But the big hurdle will be at the legislature, where the rest of the state's portion of the funding (the state has already committed $44 million) is sure to be a controversial topic next session.

Vadis tells us there are at least two ways lawmakers could come up with the bucks -- either through bonding, or via a transportation funding bill that would impose a metro sales tax for transit projects.

In the meantime, engineers will be hard at work completing design work for the project, including track features, bridges and tunnels, station design, park and ride facilities, freight rail features, public art, streetscape, and utility relocation.

"Hopefully we'll have a few months of quiet before then," Vadis says, referring to the impending political battle over Southwest LRT.

Send your story tips to the author, Aaron Rupar. Follow him on Twitter @atrupar.





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46 comments
Pat McCabe
Pat McCabe

Please f****** tax the f*** out of us

Ezra Ben-Ami
Ezra Ben-Ami

I support the project. Politics aside we should have kept our streetcar lines (pre-LRT) when we had the chance but since we didn't (and I understand it was before our time), here we are fighting each other to replace them. We need them and people will use them.

Joseph M. Adams
Joseph M. Adams

Fund it with the Vikings money and cancel that stupid ass stadium plan.

Keith Morris
Keith Morris

So the City of Minneapolis Government basically gave the OK for Minneapolitans to subsidize rich SW metro commuters. Instead of expecting people out there to live with the consequence of bad decisions, i.e. sitting in traffic because you were dumb enough to think you'd be the only commuter on the highway, we're bailing out the burbs so that they don't have to live with the consequences of choosing to live in a car-dependent area . In case anyone didn't notice the obvious, "mass" transit requires a "mass" of residents near each station to support any given route. This is why the Green Line is doing well: lots of people and businesses are within walking and biking distance of those stations: a few are even served by high-frequency bus routes. It's urban transportation which only belong in an urban environment. There are four stations planned in Eden Prairie: who lives on those big parking lots next to the planned stations? No one. Businesses within walking distance are few. Have fun walking a half hour in -20 degrees or biking in 50 MPH traffic: there are no reliable bus routes to get around EP once the SW LRT gets you there. This isn't going to take cars off the road because EP residents will still need them to get around 98% of the suburb not covered by LRT. When I'm in Chicago taking the L I'm able to get around many areas where there are tons to walk to from any given station, whether it's the Blue, Red, Brown, etc. These lines serve heavily populated areas with high concentrations of businesses just a short walk away. The L doesn't jump the the edge of the city with the majority of stops out in the burbs, much like the planned Bottineau line will also do. And when people go to Chicago they want to visit Chicago establishments. Our planned LRT lines are not going to take you to all of the great unique stuff Minneapolis has to offer: you can't and won't be able to take it to Uptown, Loring Park (Walker Art Center, Sculpture Garden, etc), Lake St in Phillips/Powderhorn with Midtown Global Market and several Mexican restaurants (our version of Pilsen more or less), 38th St (Victor's, Blackbird, Five Watt, Tiny Diner, Riverview Theater, etc), Dinkytown, 48th & Chicago, Linden Hill's business district, NE's dive bars, quirky 13th Ave, Old St Anthony or even St Anthony Main. Instead, visitors and tourists will have to wait years to take a train and the most interesting thing it wil take them to in Eden Prairie is a Chipotle, a Champp's and a Buca Di Beppo: I wonder if theirs is better than the one off Harmon: only five years to find out!

Nick Merchant
Nick Merchant

Eden Prairie has lots of people commuting to and from there on a daily basis. 494 and 62 have terrible traffic issues. This should help out a lot, taking the train to work is way cheaper then gas and maitinence on a car. Yes other areas need it too but this is a good start, I am happy to see the Twin Cities doing something about its public transportation. Lets face it, public transportation in the metro area is awful. It is the one thing I hated about living in the Twin Cities.

worksman
worksman

Low capacity rail transit is a colossal waste of tax payer money just to make low information fools feel good about themselves. It is far less efficient than buses yet it is far more expensive.


Doug Black
Doug Black

Meanwhile the Chinese are building infrastructure every day adding efficiency, easing pollution and reliving congestion We have to get past these expensive, time intensive, NIMBY based processes which prevent us from solving real problems e.g. Global warming, congestion. Lets look at the big picture ig we don't gets cars off the road we cuukd have a milion trees but it is not going to make a difference..

Jill Livenlearn
Jill Livenlearn

How about to Hudson or at least to Woodbury? Have u seen or been in the traffic in the morning or night?

Ira A. Radtke
Ira A. Radtke

So very disappointed that there are no North Minneapolis stops at all... Another wasted opportunity to serve those most in need.

bgroetsch
bgroetsch

I don't like the outcome of the council vote. My tax dollars are going to cater towards affluent Minnesotans in the west Metro suburbs with this light rail deal. There was nothing in the LRT project that was going for those in the denser communities in Minneapolis where access to public transit is desperately needed. People in Minnetonka, Edina, and Wayzata aren't going to foot the bill for the SW LRT line. Instead, its going to be on the backs of working class and lower middle class Americans in Minneapolis for paying the light rail operation costs.

MNjoe
MNjoe topcommenter

This is great - growing up in Chicago I can only say, what took you so long? Let's finish the Northstar all the way to St. Cloud too.  

BlakeLucas1
BlakeLucas1

These comments are so ignorant.  Everyone is so worried about paying taxes to improve the city, but they don't realize how much the current infrastructure is costing them. That's like wanting to take money away from the schools, when you're going to pay 100X more to incarcerate/ welfare the kids that don't get enough attention later in life.  Road construction, pollution, parking, drunk driving, the cost of time sitting in traffic.  These are all enormous costs that we pay for whether you realize or not, and this light rail project will pay for itself within 5 years.

Mike Kattner
Mike Kattner

What about ACTUAL southwest minneapolis transportation... That's like Edina transportation

SickOfBadDrivers
SickOfBadDrivers

This is awesome.  It will get more of you idiots out of your cars as you drive like crap.

Bil Thorne
Bil Thorne

People are too fat. More bike lanes.

John Sroka
John Sroka

Fix the roads that more people use

digitalprotocol
digitalprotocol topcommenter

ive ridden the light rail. it totally sucks. it stops for red lights.

Cheri Sroka
Cheri Sroka

Just another mode of transportation for me to be scared of lol

Zurichfan340328
Zurichfan340328

This is awesome. I can keep my kids in school in Hopkins and still have all the access to work and party in Downtown I could possibly want. Make money downtown. Play downtown. Take property tax money back to whiter areas. Yay America! 

MNjoe
MNjoe topcommenter

I'll bet you $1000 that you're wrong. 

MNjoe
MNjoe topcommenter

Slowly getting better!


Dave2
Dave2

The old streetcars were hell on auto traffic. You could rarely get around one on the left (oncoming traffic) and they blocked the right side because they loaded and unloaded passengers there. Even back in the '40's and '50's traffic there would be a mile of cars stacked up behind a streetcar. They switched from street cars to buses on city streets because buses didn't block traffic so badly. Our city streets are too narrow for streetcars and the light rail they are building now should have been built underground or overhead. The green line claimed its first casualty last night. Add that to the 13 that the blue line has killed and it's apparant that "going cheap" in the long run will be costly.  

MNjoe
MNjoe topcommenter

Hopefully, in the near future, there will be Hennepin and Nicollet ave. streetcar lines that will hook up with the light rail.

MNjoe
MNjoe topcommenter

@worksman Fuck you - people don't want to ride the bus. We want trains and streetcars. If you asshole Republicans hadn't spent about $3 trillion on those stupid fucking wars, we could've built great train systems in every metropolitan area in the U.S. and probably still had enough left over to give every American free healthcare. You fucking people should be the last group preaching fiscal austerity. 

MNjoe
MNjoe topcommenter

Too bad they didn't leave enough room down the I-94 corridor to build a line right down the middle of the freeway like Chicago has. They could go from downtown Mpls. to Hudson. Then a connecting streetcar to Stillwater? I'd ride that!

MNjoe
MNjoe topcommenter

@BlakeLucas1 And these were the same people who had no problem when Bush & Co. started the 2 wars that have cost us $3 trillion so far. Think of the American infrastructure we could have built with that money!

MNjoe
MNjoe topcommenter

Fuck Edina!

BlakeLucas1
BlakeLucas1

It actually doesn't go through Edina at all... It goes through Minneapolis, St. Louis Park, Hopkins, and Eden Prairie.

BlakeLucas1
BlakeLucas1

Because it benefits you even if you don't use it.  Less people on the roads, which means less road construction, less pollution, and fewer drunk drivers. And to give you an idea of what that can mean, there is an estimated 260 million dollars spent annually in Minnesota to clean up drunk drivers. Cities like New York, where public transit is easy to come by, there's roughly no drunk driving issue whatsoever. You're part of this growing infrastructure that allows you to live the life you want to live, just pay your taxes.

MNjoe
MNjoe topcommenter

If you were paying attention, you'd see that they are!

MNjoe
MNjoe topcommenter

@digitalprotocol Move to Chicago - subways and 'L's.

MNjoe
MNjoe topcommenter

@Zurichfan340328 But when you party downtown you'll be kicking in some tax dollars to the city of Mpls. and not living here. Yay! 

bgroetsch
bgroetsch

@BlakeLucas1 We're NOT New York City! Their light rail system is more centralized due to the high urban density around Manhattan, which attracts the rift-raft. Unless you want to put up with raving drunks, homeless bums sleeping at the station platform, drug panhandlers, traveling hobos, mass long lines due to technical errors on the trains, rude passengers, guys urinating in public, prostitution rings, and black gang bangers, go right ahead. In my own world, I'd rather be in a car on the road and away from the melodrama on the choo-choo light rail train.

brendanbikes
brendanbikes

@bgroetsch @BlakeLucas1 Well excuse me, but I'd rather have my city's "raving drunks" hanging out at the LRT stops than behind the wheel killing cyclists and other drivers.


More people in individual cars is NOT the solution if you want livable communities. But I suppose people like you seem to avoid interacting in communities anyway.

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