Less than 1 percent of the funds needed to construct the Central Corridor light rail transit line are requested in a bonding bill that may not happen.
Sponsored by Rep. Alice Hausman (DFL-St. Paul), HF263 would authorize the remaining $8.5 million in bond proceeds to fund the proposed 11-mile line between the downtowns of St. Paul and Minneapolis. Thus far, $83 million in state bonds has been authorized for the project.
This bill would satisfy the remainder of state responsibility, said Judd Schetnan, government affairs director for the Metropolitan Council. “You need to have the state share in hand before you apply for a full-funding grant agreement.”
However, Schetnan indicated the governor has not committed to a bonding bill this year.
“If we don’t have these bonds in hand, the council will have to find a way to basically commit a certain amount of dollars to say that we have that in place,” he said. “What we could do is commit those dollars and come back next year for the additional $8.5 million.”
The bill was held over Feb. 12 by the House Transportation Finance and Policy Division for possible referral to the House Capital Investment Finance Division. A companion bill, SF320, sponsored by Sen. Sandy Pappas (DFL-St. Paul), awaits action by the Senate Transportation Budget and Policy Division.
The transit project’s final design is scheduled to be completed this year, with construction to begin next year, and service to begin in 2014, although Hausman hopes it’ll be reduced to a two-year construction cycle.
“If we can do the 35W bridge, we can do this in a faster timeline,” she said.
By 2030 the line is expected to provide more than 43,000 rides per day, but Hausman noted that nearly every line across the country exceeds ridership goals “long before” the date projected. She also said there are expected to be 345,000 jobs in the corridor by 2030, about 65,000 more than today.
Half of the $914.9 million project is to come from federal funds, with the state and Hennepin and Ramsey counties funding the rest.
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