Sen. Al Franken said the Minnesota Legislature’s funding could have ramifications at the federal level.
"It's certainly not good, and it definitely affects the federal side of things," Franken told Patch in a brief interview Thursday during a tour through the Lake Minnetonka area.
Gov. Mark Dayton asked the Legislature to set aside $25 million for Southwest LRT. Lawmakers rejected that, and the project needs at least $14 million more to continue preliminary engineering.
Rail advocates say a state commitment is necessary to assure the federal government that Minnesota is on board. Failure to set aside the money could put the project behind others across the country.
But some opponents are wary about putting state money on the line without federal commitments, while others say the transportation money would be better spent on roads and buses than rail.
Southwest LRT isn’t dead yet. The Metropolitan Council is asking the Department of Employment and Economic Development to set aside some of the $47.5 million the agency has for capital project grants.
Franken said the local piece is important and that he’s disappointed it hasn’t come through.
"It's a shame," he said. "I believe in light rail and transit, and I think most people in the metro want it—not only in the southwest corridor, but in St. Paul.”