LIGHT RAIL TRANSIT: Franken urges state funding for Southwest Corridor light rail

April 19, 2016

The senator says those federal dollars go away if the state does not act. 

U.S. Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) visited the proposed future light rail stop in Hopkins, Minn., Sunday morning to warn that nearly $900 million in federal funding for the Southwest Corridor light-rail line will be lost if state legislators don’t fund the state’s smaller share this year.

Standing in front of a green Metro Transit bus that says “get on board” with the Southwest line, Franken advocated for the project, saying it would propel economic development and job creation in communities along the line.

“If the state legislature doesn’t act this session, that $895 million would go to New York or California or Washington state, the Seattle area,” Franken said. “I want to see those resources come here to Minnesota.”

Franken was joined by Metropolitan Council Chair Adam Duininck, Hopkins Mayor Molly Cummins, and Minneapolis Regional Chamber of Commerce CEO John Stanoch at a Park and Ride near 10299 Excelsior Blvd. located across the street from the planned Hopkins stop.

Half the funding for the $1.79 billion project — $895 million — will come from the federal government, according to Franken’s office. In order for the project to win $895 million in matching funds from the Federal Transit Administration, the Metropolitan Council must secure $135 million in state funds to see the project through. Already, $745 million has been committed from the Counties Transit Improvement Board, Hennepin County Regional Railroad Authority, the Met Council and other local funding sources.

Without a state commitment, federal funds would be lost, and federal willingness to fund future Twin Cities projects could be jeopardized, Franken said.

“Projects like this Southwest light rail are exactly the type of investments we need to be making right now,” Franken said. “We want to be the greatest metropolitan area in the country, and the way you do that is to attract workforce … and one of the top things that young people care about when deciding to locate is transit. And that’s the reality.”