Skip to main content

MN Republicans to feds: Keep your $900M in light rail funding

State lawmakers who have fought against a Twin Cities light rail project are urging the U.S. not to fund it.

More than 80 Republicans in the legislature are urging the U.S. government to keep about $900 million the Transportation Department is thinking about sending to Minnesota to build a light rail line.

The $1.8 billion line connecting Minneapolis with suburbs to the southwest has been in the planning stages for years. It's nearing the end of that process and the Twin Cities agency overseeing it hopes the feds will agree to cover half the cost so construction of the 14-mile line can start by the end of the year.

But the lawmakers' letter to Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao calls it a "grossly wasteful project" and argues against any federal funding for it. They say the light rail line is not a good use of money and comes with some environmental concerns.

Most of those who signed it are from outside the Twin Cities area and all of them are Republicans. The letter was posted online by MPR News.

Gov. Mark Dayton, a Democrat who supports the rail line, tells the network canceling the project would lead to "nighmarish" traffic jams in the southwestern Twin Cities. "It's going to constrict the economic vitality of this entire region which affects the entire state," Dayton said. "So, it's very short-sighted."

Change in Washington could be a factor

The Metropolitan Council, which runs Metro Transit, is planning the line between Minneapolis and Eden Prairie. Its critics in the Legislature have fought against the project, blocking state funding for it.

But the Green Line Extension, as the Met Council calls it, has moved ahead on the strength of local funding. The federal government has signaled, as recently as December, that's it's on board with the project, too.

But there have been some changes in Washington this year. The Trump administration is generally seen as less friendly to public transit than President Obama was. The Star Tribune notes that grants like the $900 million Minnesota might get would disappear under President Trump's budget recommendation.

Less transit money from the state Capitol, too

Regardless of whether the new rail line gets built, the Republican majority in Minnesota's legislature is sending the message that it wants the state to spend less on transit.

The transportation bill rolled out by the House GOP this week emphasizes highways and it would cut transit funding to the Metropolitan Council by $53 million, Session Daily reports.

It would also prohibit local governments from doing any studies or construction of new light rail transit unless they get approval from the state legislature.

Next Up

Hopkins Basketball

Hopkins suffers rare loss to No. 1 ranked Sidwell Friends

The Royals held their own in a battle of the nation's best.

argue-wertman booking photos

Charges: 2 teens responsible for violent carjacking spree across Twin Cities

They face a combined 31 felony counts, all tied to carjackings and related crimes.

rep nolan west mn house

MN rep. says he was 'assaulted' at activist group's public meeting

The Republican said a man grabbed his arms and yanked him from the room.

Screen Shot 2022-01-20 at 12.56.52 PM

What were the 'bizarre things' seen in Minnesota's sky?

The mysterious streaks were not UFOs and they weren't pieces of an asteroid.

icicles, freezing weather, cold weather

Booming noises in the night could be frost quakes

The loud sounds are most likely to happen during the middle of the night.

coronavirus, coronavirus test, covid-19

Free COVID testing site to open in St. Paul for 3 weeks

The federal testing site comes as demand for testing remains high.

Reyel Simmons photo 1 - complaint - crop

MN TikToker accused of faking federal agent life pleads guilty

He told his 10,000 followers he was a Homeland Security agent — authorities say it was a lie.

Wilf

Report: Vikings request second interview with 2 GM candidates

Ryan Poles of the Chiefs and Kwesi Adofo-Mensah of the Browns.

Amaya Battle

Hopkins takes on No. 1 team in the country on ESPNU Friday

The game will feature a pair of top recruits in the Class of 2022.

st. paul federation of educators - teachers

Educators in Minneapolis, St. Paul could strike amid contract negotiations

Teachers and support staff are demanding smaller class sizes, mental health support and better pay.

turtinen two harbors

MN mayor in hot water for hawking $400M underwater hotel plan

The city council called a special meeting to discuss the mayor's public comments.

Related

light rail

On track: Southwest Light Rail project gets final piece of funding

The $928.8 million funding grant will pay for the completion of the Green Line Light Rail Extension.

All aboard! The Blue Line light rail extension is moving ahead

Construction on the line could begin next year.

Light rail trains will be powered by the wind for Earth Day

For 24 hours, the light rail trains will be powered by wind.

4 ways buses and trains could be hurt by House bill, according to transit officials

Fares could go up and service could be cut – by quite a bit.

No fare: More people are cheating the light rail's ticket honor system

The percentage of fare evaders has nearly doubled in two years.

The cost of riding a bus or train is going up

A fare hike for Twin Cities transit starts this fall

Parts of some Metro Transit light rails won't run this weekend

Parts of the Blue and Green lines won't run this weekend.