Minnesota lawmaker says Southwest Light Rail budget deficit could be close to $400 million

Rep. Brad Tabke, DFL-Shakopee, told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS he asked the Met Council how much the Southwest Light Rail budget deficit will be and he said he was told it could be in the neighborhood of $400 million.

This comes a week after Met Council management announced it had reached an agreement with Hennepin County to split the costs of fixing the budget gap 55-45, but no exact deficit numbers were given at the time.

Since then, Tabke said he got a breakdown of what the 55-45 split will look like in actual dollar amounts.

“Yes, somewhere in the upper 180 to 200 million dollars is what the Met Council’s portion of this will be in the end,” said Tabke. “And Hennepin County’s portion of the deficit would be about the same.”

That would put the estimated SWLRT project deficit somewhere between $360 million and $400 million.

Tabke, who is Vice-Chair of the House Transportation Committee, said the estimated $200 million going to help balance the SWLRT deficit would mean almost certain delays for transit projects in the other six metro area counties that are represented by the Met Council.

“Adding bus rapid transit routes, micro-transit and pieces that will really help transit in that final mile for transit to make sure that we have a transit system that works for everybody across the entire region,” said Tabke.

A Met Council spokesperson declined to comment on Tabke’s estimates but said there will be more definitive SWLRT budget deficit numbers and a projected completion date of the project coming out sometime this fall.

The Met Council Committee of the Whole is expected to hear more details on all of this at its next meeting Sept. 6.