Daudt: No funding for Southwest light rail

House Speaker Kurt Daudt, R-Crown, says House Republicans will not provide state funding for the Southwest light rail line between Eden Prairie and Minneapolis.

The state's share is $120 million of the $1.6 billion project.

Daudt’s comments run counter to Rep. Tim Kelly’s stance earlier this month. Kelly, R-Red Wing, chairs the House Transportation Committee. Kelly wouldn't rule out funding the Southwest, but Daudt is.

“I am ruling it out,” Daudt said in an interview.

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Daudt said the 16 mile light rail line is not a priority for House Republicans .

“We are not interested in moving forward on the Southwest light rail project. I think we need to get real with our priorities in Minnesota on how we spend our transportation dollars. Our plan is to spend them on roads and bridges.”

Gov. Mark Dayton said he isn't willing to fund the Southwest Light Rail project until the Minneapolis Park Board’s objections are resolved. The park board is funding a study to determine whether a deeper, more expensive tunnel is a better option to protect city parkland than the Metropolitan Council's plan that features a shallow tunnel.

Sen. Scott Dibble, DFL-Minneapolis, said Senate Democrats are committed to funding the project.

Dibble, who chairs the Senate Transportation Committee, released his transportation funding package today. It would rely on $800 million in new revenue through a wholesale gas tax hike, and higher license tab fees. The plan also borrows $576 million for new roads and bridges and includes a half cent sales tax in the metro area to pay for transportation projects.

House Republicans have released a package that relies on bonding and budget cuts to the Minnesota Department of Transportation to pay for $750 million in road and bridge projects over the next four years.