Transportation at the Capitol

MnDOTLast week, both the House and Senate Transportation Committees passed omnibus transportation bills. The Senate Finance Committee will be hearing supplemental finance bills Monday afternoon (today), including the transportation bill. Met Council Chair Alene Tchourumoff is scheduled to testify.

Today’s Transit at the Capitol update provides details on the hearings scheduled for this week at the Capitol, related to the transportation bills, as well as the Council’s bonding request for regional bus rapid transit projects. Per your request, the goal of this update is to keep transit stakeholders and the public informed about the latest activity at the Capitol, in addition to basic regional transit news. Please share with others you think would find this information useful – if someone would like to be added to the list, just send me an email.

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Senate Transportation Omnibus Bill

Monday afternoon, beginning at 1 p.m., the Senate Finance Committee will be hearing several supplemental finance bills, including the transportation omnibus bill, SF3806. This bill was passed 9 to 6 in the Senate Transportation Finance Committee last week.

Today, Chair Alene Tchourumoff will testify before the Senate Finance Committee, to share concerns related to a number of the elements in the bill, including:

  • Prohibition of co-location of light rail and freight rail. (This would prohibit both the Southwest and Bottineau LRT projects.)
  • Requirement for Council’s “transit components” to be separated from the Council’s other divisions’ finances, use the state budgeting system, and switch from calendar year to the state fiscal year.  (The Council works on a calendar year to align with local governments. This provision would require the Council to create a new accounting system and operate two separate systems going forward.) The fiscal note on this provision is $11 million for the next fiscal year, and $7.6 million in ongoing costs for each biennium into the future.
  • Requires the Council to include three revenue scenarios in the Transportation Policy Plan.
  • Limits light rail operating costs to existing system, which would essentially cap service levels at the time of enactment, limiting the ability to increase frequency or service hours in the future. It would also remove the state 50 percent share of LRT operating costs for Bottineau or other future LRT lines (there is already a provision restricting state funding for Southwest LRT).

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Bonding request for regional bus rapid transit projects

The House Transportation Finance Committee will be hearing a presentation Wednesday morning on the Council’s regional bus rapid transit bonding request. Chair Tchourumoff will be testifying before the committee, which meets at 8:15 a.m.

As previously shared, the Council has a $50 million bonding request focused on meeting the growing transit needs of our region. The $50 million for busway corridor projects would help further develop the BRT regional system, potentially including the following projects:

  • D Line (Chicago-Emerson Ave. from Brooklyn Center to Mpls. to Bloomington)
  • B Line (Lake St.-Marshall Ave.)
  • E Line (Hennepin Ave.)
  • Design and construction of up to seven additional rapid bus corridors and express bus improvements related to the Orange Line (Burnsville-Mpls) and the Gold Line (East Metro)

You can learn more about bus rapid transit by watching this video.

Advocates of the proposed D Line, which is in development phase now, have expressed their support of the bonding request, including:

  • Letter of support from Minneapolis Regional Chamber of Commerce
  • Letter of support from Saint Paul Area Chamber of Commerce
  • Letter of support from Bloomington Chamber of Commerce
  • Resolution in support from the Minneapolis Downtown Council
  • Resolution in support from the City of Bloomington
  • Resolution in support from the City of Minneapolis
  • Resolution in support from the City of Brooklyn Center
  • Resolution in support from the I-494 Corridor Commission
  • Minneapolis Regional Chamber of Commerce, Saint Paul Area Chamber of Commerce and East Metro Strong together launched BetterBusesMSP.com