Editor's Note: The following is a letter written and signed by the mayors of Edina, Eden Prairie, Hopkins, Minnetonka, Minneapolis and St. Louis Park. The letter was sent to Mark Phillips, commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development.
Dear Commissioner Phillips:
As the Mayors of six cities in the western metropolitan area, we write today regarding the $47.5 million Business Development Through Capital Project Grants Program to be administered by the Department of Employment and Economic Development. We understand that the Metropolitan Council is applying for a grant for Southwest Light Rail Transit (SW LRT) from this program. We strongly support that request.
SW LRT will benefit each of our cities. The new transportation capacity in this project is critical to our cities’ and our state’s economic success. We believe this so strongly, each of our City Councils has adopted resolutions supporting the line.
The businesses along the SW corridor provide 210,000 jobs and are projected to add another 60,000 jobs by 2030—if workers can get there. Even with planned highway expansion, roads in this area cannot accommodate that many new workers. To keep adding jobs, we must provide new capacity through SW LRT.
SW LRT has passed rigorous federal and local examination. Our communities have spent 10 years and $6 million choosing the best way to connect new jobs to workers. SW LRT is ready to move forward. The state’s investment in SW LRT will be matched 9-to-1 by non-state sources, with $625 million coming from the federal government. SW LRT’s projected payroll of $329 million would be far larger than the state investment in the project.
SW LRT excels on the criteria outlined in the legislation that created the Capital Project Grant Program, including: job creation; increasing the local tax base; encouragement of private investment; demonstration of local support; and positive return on investment. If we do not invest in transportation now, we will have more traffic, more congestion, and a worse quality of life. Our residents understand this and it is why they support SW LRT.
We greatly appreciate Governor Dayton’s support for SW LRT. Our cities stand ready to work with the Department of Employment and Economic Development to move this project forward and enhance our state’s ability to keep and add jobs.
James Hovland, Mayor, City of Edina
Terry Schneider, Mayor, City of Minnetonka
Nancy Tyra-Lukens, Mayor, City of Eden Prairie
R.T. Rybak, Mayor, City of Minneapolis
Gene Maxwell, Mayor, City of Hopkins
Jeff Jacobs, Mayor, City of St. Louis Park