June 01, 2017 06:03 PM
Despite repeated threats to the Southwest Light Rail Line during the 2017 legislative session, the project remains on track.
The line is planned to run from Minneapolis to Eden Prairie
"(The) Southwest light rail project is on (the) best footing it's been in quite some time," Met Council Chairman Adam Duininck told KSTP Thursday.
The transportation bill, passed by the legislature and signed by Governor Mark Dayton, does prohibit state funds to be used for operating costs on the Southwest Light Rail line once it's built.
However, Hennepin County has agreed to pick up those costs.
The state will continue to pay half the operating costs of the existing Blue and Green light rail lines.
Duininck says he's encouraged that the legislature authorized $70 million in new funding, which will cover an operating deficit over the next two years and prevent bus and light rail service cuts.
The Met Council chair is also confident federal funding will be approved to complete the construction budget for SWLRT, despite opposition from Republican state lawmakers.
Dozens of them signed a letter to Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao in March asking her to deny the funds.
"I think transit is going to be well-funded through the Congress and through the President, the President's budget," Duininck said. "Even though his own budget doesn't support it, Congress does. So at the federal level I feel good about that and then I feel good about the progress we made at the legislature to keep Southwest moving."
If all goes as planned, construction on the SWLRT could start in late 2017 or early 2018, and be complete by 2021.
Updated: June 01, 2017 06:03 PM
Created: June 01, 2017 05:43 PM
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