Could SW LRT Plan Collapse Like Washington Project?

A Star Tribune story suggests that the demise of a Washington transit project serves as a “cautionary tale” for local planners.

Twin Cities Business’s April cover story offered an in-depth report on the conflict between The Twin Cities & Western Railroad and planners of the Southwest Corridor light-rail line—a dispute that centers around how to deal with existing freight rail, and one that could put the major project in jeopardy.

Now, the Star Tribune has drawn connections between the local plan and a transit project that fell apart amid political opposition in Washington state. While the challenges that the two projects face are not the same, the Washington plan serves as a reminder that transit projects can be derailed even after years of planning and preparation, the Minneapolis newspaper reported.

The costs of the proposed Southwest light-rail line have climbed higher and higher in recent months. The price tag was previously estimated at $1.25 billion, and depending on various options planners may choose to mitigate the freight-rail issue, the price may reportedly climb to $1.82 billion.

The Washington project, which was in the works for two decades, initially had a $3.5 billion price tag but was pared to $2.8 billion after planners decided to postpone certain elements, according to the Star Tribune. But the state senate refused to approve a tax increase to finance its share of the bill, a move that may have effectively killed the project after $170 million was spent developing it, the newspaper reported.

To learn more about the history of the local dispute, click here. For more information on the Pacific Northwest project and what it may represent for local planners, click here.