News: Hennepin County, partners bridge state's funding gap for Southwest LRT

Having trouble viewing this email? View it as a Web page.


Contact: Carolyn Marinan, Communications, 612-348-5969

Hennepin County, partners bridge state's funding gap for Southwest LRT

Hennepin County will increase its funding commitment to the Southwest Light Rail Transit project, helping to bridge a funding gap left by the Minnesota Legislature.

Acting as the Hennepin County Regional Railroad Authority, the Hennepin County Board voted Tuesday in a special meeting to increase its share of the project by $20.5 million, for a total funding commitment of $185 million, or 10 percent of the project’s capital costs.

Combined with a similar proposed increase by the Counties Transit Improvement Board and a promise by the Metropolitan Council to raise $103.5 million in Certificates of Participation – a financing tool used previously by the Met Council and the state – the county’s additional infusion is helping the project bridge the $144.5 million funding gap left by the state, and fulfilling the federally mandated local share. In previous years, the Legislature has contributed some funding to this project, about 1 percent.

The Metropolitan Council has indicated it will wait until July 2017 to issue the certificates, in hope that a different session of the Legislature will be able to move the funding forward.

Shouldering the state's share

Regional Railroad Authority Chair Peter McLaughlin agreed with comments from others on the board that it was unfair for the county to have to shoulder what should have been the state’s share.

“This is not a perfect solution but it reflects a willingness by local government to act after legislative inaction,” he said. “Today’s vote keeps the project moving forward, it avoids costly delays, and it nails down missing pieces needed for the federal application that will bring more than $900 million to Hennepin County.”

This action, coupled with tomorrow's votes at CTIB and the Met Council ensure that the project can move forward to request matching funds from the Federal Transit Administration.

Bringing value to the region

The value of a well-integrated transit system – cars, buses, trains – exceeds the investment, in terms of connecting people with jobs, improving the environment and increasing economic competitiveness, said County Board Chair Jan Callison.

“I don’t think the state of Minnesota can buy those advantages for $144 million with anything but transit,” she said.

Already, 90 percent of the engineering and design is complete for Southwest Light Rail Transit, which runs from downtown Minneapolis to Eden Prairie. Construction is scheduled to begin in 2017. The project is expected to begin passenger service as an extension of the METRO Green Line in 2021.

The Counties Transit Improvement Board and the Metropolitan Council will vote on their increased shares later this week.

Read the resolution

– 30 –

Look for more news on the Hennepin County website at

Discover how we're making a difference in our communities at