Monday, January 28, 2013
The Pioneer Press reported that some east metro legislators say their regions are being left out of rail plans. Patch wants to know what you think.
Most of the recent debate over rail has been between those who want to spend more money on light rail and those who prefer spending the money on roads and buses. On Sunday, though, the Pioneer Press had a look at a light issue that hasn’t garnered as much attention: Is the east metro getting its share of rail projects? The paper notes that St. Paul’s only rail line right now is Amtrak and that the city is on track to add just one light rail line, the Central Corridor Light Rail line running between Minneapolis and St. Paul. Minneapolis, on the other hand, could someday be the starting point of the Hiawatha, Southwest, Bottineau, Central Corridor and Northstar lines. Some east metro legislators say that’s not fair. State officials and …
Thursday, January 3, 2013
A look at the details for the four light rail projects closest to completion.
Whether you like it or not, light rail is the talk of the metro at the moment. Businesses along the Central Corridor have another year of construction to look forward to. St. Louis Park residents are protesting the proposed relocation of freight rail in respone to the Southwest Transitway project as supporters continue to seek the necessary funding. In Golden Valley, residents are waiting to see what their City Council will do when it comes to supporting a resolution that would send a light rail train through their community. Many Golden Valley residents urged the City Council to vote no on the resolution that would allow more studies to be conducted about the Bottineau Transitway’s locally preferred alternative (LPA). Meanwhile, the …
Wednesday, December 5, 2012
Whether an increased sales tax or a new taxing jurisdiction, advocates say a reliable funding stream could insulate transit from political winds.
The Southwest Light Rail Transit project hasn’t had an easy time securing state funding over the past couple years. It faced stiff opposition from Republicans, with the former transportation committee head promising to stop the Southwest LRT "in its tracks." DFL wins in the 2012 Election bode well for the project, but there’s no way of knowing how long that will last. With the line years away from operation, and the Bottineau Transitway moving forward, some light rail advocates are questioning whether transit should rely so much on state funding. That was the question brought up multiple times Tuesday during a meeting with national and local development experts about making the most of Southwest LRT. Instituting a reliable revenue stream, …
Friday, November 2, 2012
With Hopkins High School so far from the planned light rail line, School Board Director Kris Newcomer questioned whether students would actually be able to use LRT to travel to courses offered at the University of Minnesota.
One of the benefits of the proposed Southwest Light Rail Transit line, promoters say, is that west metro high schoolers could use the line to take college classes at the University of Minnesota. School Board Director Kris Newcomer was skeptical, though. Hopkins High School is about four miles from the nearest station. At a joint meeting with the City Council on Tuesday, she wondered how the students are going to get there. The discussion centers on Southwest’s green line extension,which would allow riders to get all the way from Eden Prairie to the University of Minnesota and on to St. Paul. That’s a perfect fit for the state’s Post-Secondary Enrollment Options program, light rail advocates say. That program allows high school juniors and …
Monday, October 1, 2012
The project is one of two being expedited with the "We Can't Wait" initiative.
President Barack Obama is apparently a supporter of expanded light rail in the Twin Cities area. The Obama Administration announced today that the Southwest Light Rail project is one of two projects in the country that will be expedited due to the "We Can't Wait" initiative. That initiative aims to speed up the various processes required to get a big project off the ground. In the case of Southwest LRT, the Federal Transit Administration is using an enhanced coordination process with other federal agencies as well as exploring using the NEPA/Clean Water Act merger process, which is estimated to save several months by aligning multiple permit and review processes to work concurrently instead of sequentially. The target date for completing …
Tuesday, September 11, 2012
The project tied for the lowest score among 37 applicants competing for $47.5 million in bonding money.
Rep. Ryan Winkler (DFL-District 46A) didn’t mask his thoughts when news came down that the Southwest Light Rail Transit project had come in behind a new minor league ballpark in St. Paul, a wastewater project in Litchfield and a downtown development initiative in Duluth that includes a new parking ramp. Winkler took to Twitter to express his frustration, firing off a series of tweets Tuesday criticizing the Department of Employment and Economic Development: Other west metro leaders were more tactful, but the news remained a downer for many supporters who’ve seen Southwest LRT repeatedly fail to secure funding. The $14 million request tied for last place among the 37 projects that applied for a piece of the $47.5 million available in …
Tuesday, July 10, 2012
The city is looking to put its stamp on the Beltline Boulevard stop.
Though the state legislature didn't include funding for the Southwest Light Rail Transitway in last session's bonding bill, St. Louis Park City Council is still forging ahead with its part of the project. At a Monday study session, council looked over design guidelines for the proposed Beltline station. The stop is the first of three in St. Louis Park to go under the microscope, thanks to a grant from the Met Council. A grant was also received to study the Louisiana Avenue stop, so that figures to be next in line for City Council. A grant for the third stop—at Wooddale Avenue—is expected to come the city's way as well. To study the Beltline station area, City Council set up a resident advisory committee, which drafted the design guidelines…
Tuesday, June 19, 2012
Met Council is currently applying for $47.5 million in state funding for Southwest Light Rail.
Tuesday, June 19, 2012
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 …
Thursday, May 31, 2012
The Minnesota senator said it’s a shame the Legislature didn’t approve the money.
Sen. Al Franken said the Minnesota Legislature’s rejection of Southwest Light Rail Transit funding could have ramifications at the federal level. "It's certainly not good, and it definitely affects the federal side of things," Franken told Patch in a brief interview Thursday during a tour through the Lake Minnetonka area. Gov. Mark Dayton asked the Legislature to set aside $25 million for Southwest LRT. Lawmakers rejected that, and the project needs at least $14 million more to continue preliminary engineering. Rail advocates say a state commitment is necessary to assure the federal government that Minnesota is on board. Failure to set aside the money could put the project behind others across the country. But some opponents are wary about…
Tuesday, May 29, 2012
Met Council is currently applying for funding from the state Department of Employment and Economic Development.
Tuesday, May 29, 2012
Editor's Note: The following letter was sent to Mark Phillips, commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, by the Minneapolis Regional Chamber of Commerce, Eden Prairie Chamber of Commerce, Edina Chamber of Commerce, Saint Paul Area Chamber of Commerce and TwinWest Chamber of Commerce. Met Council is currently applying for a DEED grant for the Southwest Light Rail Transit project, which the chambers all support. Dear Commissioner Phillips: On behalf of the five largest local Chambers of Commerce in Minnesota and thousands of employers, 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 …