(Susan Haigh, chairwoman of the Metropolitan Council, released the following statement Thursday after the conclusion of this year's legislative session.)
A bonding bill that omits Southwest Light Rail misses a tremendous opportunity for the state and the Twin Cities region. I’m disappointed that the Governor’s original bonding proposal was scaled back in a way that leaves out this important investment, which has the strong support of business and the six communities along the line.
By leaving out Southwest Light Rail, the Legislature put up a serious impediment to private sector job creation along the corridor. The State of Minnesota must continue to make smart investments in critical public infrastructure projects for the region like Southwest Light Rail in order to grow our economy—just as it did with Central Corridor during the previous administration. Local, state and federal partners must contribute to and prioritize this project now and in the future if it is to succeed.
The urgent need for this line requires that we begin exploring other temporary funding alternatives to keep the project on track until the 2013 legislature has the opportunity to fund the state’s share of the project. In the coming weeks, I’ll be talking with our local funding partners and the Dayton Administration about how to keep Southwest Light Rail progressing and how to ensure the project remains competitive for federal dollars.