Monday, May 20, 2013
The proposed sales tax for transit improvements did not make it into the final transportation bill.
The presidents of the Minneapolis Regional Chamber and Saint Paul Area Chamber on Sunday condemned the Legislature’s inability to approve a dedicated funding source to expand Twin Cities transit. Last month, the Minneapolis and Saint Paul chambers endorsed a metrowide sales tax of up to half a cent that would have funded transit improvements. Transit tax proposals presented during the session ranged from a quarter of a cent to three-quarters of a cent. However, a sales tax for transit did not make it in to the final version of the Omnibus Transportation Finance bill. The bill did include $37 million to keep the Southwest Light Rail Transit project moving forward. But Minneapolis chamber President Todd Klingel and Saint Paul chamber …
Monday, April 15, 2013
Many communities along the line worry about the loss of tax base and redevelopment potential should the site move in.
St. Louis Park seems to be at the center of Southwest Light Rail Transit disputes. First it was the freight rail reroute. Now it’s the location of an operation and maintenance facility needed to service trains along the corridor. The controversy was initially not one that St. Louis Park faced. The project’s draft environmental impact statement identified just six possible sites where the facility could be located—five sites in Eden Prairie and one in Minneapolis. However, planners decided that the start of preliminary engineering was a good time to take a look at more sites. They’ve now identified 18 sites, including the following four St. Louis Park sites: (Click on the PDFs to the right to see a map and list of all 18 proposed sites.) …
Wednesday, March 27, 2013
Two Southwest LRT committees will discuss technical issues surrounding the controversial proposal.
The Southwest Light Rail Transit project’s freight rail reroute and co-location alternatives will be discussed at two meetings this week. The Southwest LRT Business Advisory Committee will take up the issue at a Wednesday morning that begins at 8 a.m. Technical issues having to do with the freight rail reroute and co-location options are expected to begin at 9:05 a.m. The Southwest LRT Community Advisory Committee will discuss the issue at a Thursday meeting that begin at 6 p.m. Discussion of the freight rail issues is scheduled to begin at 7:35 p.m. Both meetings are in Suite 500 of the Park Place West Building (6465 Wayzata Blvd., St. Louis Park). Freight rail routing has been particularly contentious part of the Southwest LRT project—…
Monday, March 4, 2013
Using video games like SimCity to investigate the real world can be informative, but players must also beware of the games’ underlying assumptions.
The debate over the Southwest Light Rail Transit project has been a bitter one, but it’s one that video gamers may be able to investigate from the comfort of their living rooms and home offices this week. That’s the promise offered by the quarter-century-old video game series SimCity—the latest version of which comes out Tuesday. The game offers a variety of transportation options and a development model that centers on how well a virtual community’s transportation corridors are operating. There’s just one problem, though. Just as critics and supporters in the Southwest LRT debate have their biases, the SimCity model has its own assumptions, as well as simplifications made for the sake of gameplay. The result can be a less-than-faithful …
Thursday, February 28, 2013
Federal New Starts funding is still a couple years away.
The Southwest Light Rail Transit project shouldn’t face any immediate setbacks if cuts from the looming sequestration take effect. The federal New Starts grants program, which helps fund transit expansion and will pay for some of the Southwest project, would be cut by 6 percent in the event of sequestration, according to Streetsblog. However, the Southwest LRT Project has not yet received federal funding, said Laura Baenen, the project’s communications manager. It continues advancing toward that goal in the next couple years.
Sunday, February 10, 2013
With several proposals before the Legislature, Patch wants to know what ideas, if any, you favor.
Last legislative session, the big question about Southwest Light Rail Transit was whether there was enough political will to fund the project. The tables appear to have turned this year, though. With at least three funding proposals floating around, the focus has lately been more on how to fund it than whether it deserves any money. Edina Sen. Melisa Franzen (DFL-District 49) introduced Senate File 257 and Senate File 258, which would provide $118 million and $37 million, respectively, in bonding money for the 15-mile light rail project. Watch Franzen explain her bills in the YouTube video above. Gov. Mark Dayton, on the other hand, has proposed a quarter-cent sales tax increase that would set up a dedicated revenue stream for transit—some…
Wednesday, January 30, 2013
Supporters have historically pushed for funding in the state’s bonding bills, but a proposed tax increase raises questions about whether that’s the right path this year.
Southwest Light Rail Transit supporters have largely praised the governor’s proposal for a quarter-cent sales tax increase that would set up a dedicated revenue stream for transit, but the proposal has created uncertainty about what the Legislature’s role is in moving the project forward this session. In the past, Rep. Steve Simon and Sen. Ron Latz, whose districts includes Hopkins and St. Louis Park, have been the chief authors on bills that would have provided money for the project. But Gov. Mark Dayton’s proposal aims to remove transit funding from the hands of the Legislature—where it’s sparked intense debate and faced repeated setbacks. With Dayton’s proposal still under discussion, though, there’s some confusion about what the …
Monday, January 28, 2013
The proposed light rail station could turn the industrial area near the station into a mixed-use neighborhood.
The Beltline Station on the proposed Southwest Light Rail Transit line could transform Beltline and County Road 25 into “grand urban boulevards” and create a “hip” neighborhood. That’s the conclusion a panel of developers, market specialists and urban designers arrived at after a multi-part workshop examining five key station areas on the line: Mitchell and Golden Triangle stations in Eden Prairie, Blake Station in Hopkins, Beltline Station in St. Louis Park and Penn Station in Minneapolis. The panel also opted to look at the Town Center station in Eden Prairie. The goal of the Southwest Corridor Development Scenarios Workshop was to bring in private-sector recommendations on how to maximize opportunities and avoid pitfalls. Below is a …
Thursday, January 17, 2013
Metro chambers commissioned the study to find out voters’ opinions about public transportation.
Support for the Southwest Light Rail Transit project has grown significantly over the past year and a majority of Minnesotans support a sales tax increase for transit, according to survey results announced Thursday. The memo that the bipartisan survey team produced on behalf of the TwinWest Chamber of Commerce, St. Paul Area Chamber of Commerce and Minneapolis Regional Chamber of Commerce paints a picture of widespread support for transit in both the Twin Cities and greater Minnesota. “Minnesotans understand that planning for economic growth and improving our region’s transportation system is just common sense,” a news release quoted Minneapolis Regional Chamber President Todd Klingel. “This survey shows there is strong support for …
Wednesday, December 12, 2012
‘So far I have not seen anything that encourages me and my business to look forward to this plan,’ one Mainstreet business owner says.
Wednesday, December 12, 2012
Editor’s Note: The following guest column comes from Mark Purdy, owner of Blackstone Manor Clock Repair on Hopkins’ Mainstreet and Eden Prairie resident. As an owner of a small business in Hopkins, I have an opinion about the effects the Southwest Light Rail Transit project (SWLRT) will have or not have on my business and other Hopkins businesses. The SWLRT is being sold as a good thing for all the citizens and the businesses along the proposed route. So far I have not seen anything that encourages me and my business to look forward to this plan. IF riders get on the train at the far west end and ride the train to work in downtown Minneapolis, what makes anyone think they will get off the train to make a stop to shop? They will not be …