The Star Tribune headline said it all: “Southwest LRT now expected to cost up to $2.75 Billion… After a year of silence, Met Council offers clarity on the project” The service gets delayed again and moved back four years to 2027 the cost keeps skyrocketing beyond originally anticipated, the Metropolitan Council said earlier this year.
(Note: Freedom Foundation of Minnesota CEO Annette Meeks consistently voted against Southwest LRT while serving on the Metropolitan Council). Seeing the handwringing over a light rail line that never should have been constructed, it makes you long for the days when former Gov. Mark Dayton was “shocked and appalled” when the cost estimates reached a more “modest” $2 billion.
Last week, the Minnesota House of Representatives voted nearly unanimously on legislation that would require an in-depth audit of the Southwest light-rail line, a project, the Star Tribune described as, “riddled with cost overruns and delays.”
Minnesota House Republicans went a step further. Through a series of amendments, they attempted to offer legislation that would freeze spending on the wasteful boondoggle until the completion of an audit, or stick a fork in the project altogether. But DFL members refused to support the efforts to cut taxpayer losses.
“This is the biggest waste of money I’ve ever seen in my lifetime,” said Rep. Kurt Daudt, R-Crown. “We must freeze all taxpayer spending on the Southwest Light Rail boondoggle until this audit is complete. Gov. Dayton was raising concerns about the alarming spike in this project’s price tag years ago, but the unaccountable and unelected Met Council plowed forward and has done nothing to address the massive cost overruns or disastrous project management. This project should have been scrapped years ago — this audit is our chance to save taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars by freezing spending or just killing it and being done with it.”
Others have been vocal as well.
“How much is too much until we figure this out?” Sen. David Osmek, R-Mound asked. “When do we say, ‘This is too much?’“
“Ballooning costs to taxpayers, missed deadlines and other turmoil,” said Rep. John Petersburg, R-Waseca, when he called for a pause on further expenditures for Southwest until a full audit is complete.