Supporters say Southwest Corridor LRT could lose federal funds

Proposed SWLRT route
The proposed Southwest Light Rail Transit route could run along the existing line at Excelsior Blvd. just east of Highway 169 in Hopkins, Minn.
MPR Photo/Jeffrey Thompson

Supporters of the proposed Southwest Corridor Light Rail project say it risks losing federal support.

The Minnesota House today passed a $496 million bonding bill, which does not include any money for the light rail line between downtown Minneapolis and Eden Prairie. Gov. Mark Dayton made the $1.25 billion light rail project one of his top bonding priorities this year.

The Southwest Corridor project needs a state contribution of $25 million to move forward, said Hennepin County Commissioner Peter McLaughlin.

"We can't get this project built if the state doesn't come up with its ten percent, so we need to continue to hammer away to get the state to make its modest contribution to this major infrastructure improvement for the state of Minnesota," McLaughlin said.

An environmental study on the 15-mile Southwest LRT is underway. The project has federal permission to begin preliminary engineering.

The business community in the southwest metro supports the transit project, McLaughlin said.

"They are all stepping forward and saying we need for our businesses this investment in transportation in the southwest quadrant of the metropolitan area, the southwest corridor," he said. "We need it, and we need it badly if we are going to continue to prosper. So I think the opponents are incredibly out of touch with the businesses."

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