Transit supporters bemoan bonding bill cuts

Lots of groups felt “dissed” by the governor’s line-item veto of 50 projects from the bonding bill — state colleges and universities were hard hit; civic center projects in Rochester, St. Cloud and Mankato were cut; land for trails won’t be acquired — but transit supporters were particularly unhappy.

The governor cut the entire $43.5 million Met Council transit construction program and an $8.5 million state match needed to qualify for a $45 million federal grant to convert St. Paul’s Union Depot into a transit hub.

“If there was any doubt that Gov. Pawlenty was hostile to transit, his line-item vetoes of the capital investment bill made that position definitive today,” said Senate Transit Division Chairman Scott Dibble, DFL-Minneapolis.

A coalition of transit organizations said the line-item vetoes “moves Minnesota in the wrong direction.”

“This veto stalls progress on a truly multi-modal transportation system that will drive Minnesota’s economy in the 21st century. The vetoed projects will have to move forward, if not this year, then next in order to keep the state from gridlock.” said Dave Van Hattum of Transit for Livable Communities.

The groups also said the vetoes hinder Minnesota’s ability to compete for key matching federal funds for transit ways, by cutting park-n-ride facilities along the Red Rock and I-94 corridors and transit facilities along the Cedar Avenue corridor.

Washington County Commissioner Myra Peterson said: “The existing park and rides are full. Both park and ride projects were supported by the Counties Transit Improvement Board, the Met Council, Washington and Ramsey Counties, and the communities involved.”

The Pioneer Press reports that:

Met Council Chairman Peter Bell said the veto won’t delay any of the major projects on the drawing board, including the Central Corridor light-rail line between St. Paul and Minneapolis, the Cedar Avenue high-speed bus line in Dakota County and the proposed Southwest Corridor light-rail line from downtown Minneapolis to the western suburbs.

While no current projects will “drop dead,” Bell, a Pawlenty appointee, said the transit projects that won’t be funded now will have to compete with other projects in the future. But Dibble said vetoed transit funding included Now Ramsey County officials will have to search for another source of matching funds.

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Comments (2)

  1. Submitted by Craig Westover on 03/16/2010 - 11:04 am.

    Transportation policy is not about building “a truly multi-modal transportation system”; it is about increasing mobility: Getting people from where they are to where they want to go to do what they want to do when they want to do it. Transit has a role in transportation policy only to the degree that it meets the mobility standard.

  2. Submitted by Bill Coleman on 03/16/2010 - 11:56 am.

    Let’s see. Pawlenty thinks that it is a bad idea to invest $8 million in state borrowing to be paid back over the long term to get get $45 million cash in federal funds for construction projects in St. Paul today… What an idiot! I am sure the other 49 governors are laughing while they promote their own state’s projects!

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