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Light-Rail – A Federal Beneficiary

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The Minnesota Central Corridor may receive $20 million dollar earmark as part of a $410 billion dollar bill that Congress may roll out this week. It is a bill that has already received heavy Republican opposition, but will most likely pass shortly. It will be voted on in the Senate tomorrow and was addressed in the House yesterday.

This money may push organizers out of the planning stage as many outstanding issues still pose a barrier to ground-breaking. This includes concerns of noise and vibration from the University of Minnesota and MPR, in addition to traffic concerns along University and Washington Avenue.

The total project will cost $915 million over four years, so the federal dollars are around just 2% of the cost but according to the Metropolitan Council to may be the hump that allows the project to obtain approval from the Federal Transit Administration since the Council already has $75.2 million with much of the remainder also be committed.

So despite opposition to this project, it may have just gotten the momentum to move forward.

Comments

Interesting that you take this on. Two things you might also want to note, at least as I understand them:

(1) As I saw the story reported, the $20m is a down payment towards the federal share of the total cost. I'm not sure how it plays into FTA's determination of whether the project will receive full funding

(2) While there are a number of concerns stated by the U, MPR, and now a faction of the St. Paul City Council, none of these were entered as formal objections during the EIS process, and each entity is on record as supporting the overall project

So while there are a number of interesting technology questions to be addressed, I don't believe they represent the "opposition" this post seems to suggest.

Thanks for the comments Frank.

It is a good point that the money for the federal government came from a bill that had been carried over from the previous year and was expected.

Both institutions mentioned have also been very clear that they will not aim to block the development of the LRT and MPR has been strong in their support. Here is a link to MRP’s official statement http://minnesota.publicradio.org/about/mpr/central_corridor/
As to the U, the cost to labs has not yet been concluded but this fact does not seem like it will deter the process.

While LRT has been generally supported there will also be future challenges that arise from the project – specifically in this geographical area i.e. the major access point for the Fairview/University hospital will be River Road and the residential streets off of 94 along with possible major traffic changes along Franklin Avenue Bridge. My last point more was that there has been major challenges in deciding upon the correct route for the train. Much of my knowledge comes from West Bank community planning.

Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs
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