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Time to scuttle SW light-rail plan

The proposed Southwest light-rail line, which has been on the books since 2003, now has an estimated cost of $2 billion, according to Tuesday’s StarTribune.
When the project was first proposed in 2003, the cost was estimated at $430 million to $925 million to provide 16 miles of light rail between Minneapolis and Eden Prairie. Even then, that seemed like an exorbitant price for 16 miles of rail.
Now, in 2015, the cost is estimated at $1.99 billion, a figure that “shocked and appalled” Gov. Mark Dayton. It shocked and appalled us, as well.
We are very much in favor of energy-efficient transportation modes that have a minimum impact on our environment, but we need to weigh those benefits with the cost.
It is no secret in this area that overburdened rail lines are part of the reason that Minnesota has so much trouble moving goods across the state.
A lack of available rail space, not to mention inadequate pipeline capacity, were major issues in the propane shortage in the winter of 2013-14. Not only did the U.S. oversell propane overseas, but it had difficulty moving the product that was here, creating long delays in getting liquid propane to the areas that needed it the most.
Minnesota would be far better off taking the $2 billion that would be needed for the Southwest light rail proposal and put it toward improving its existing transportation system, including rail service, roads and highways and pipelines.
We need to fix the deficiencies in our current infrastructure before constructing new projects.
Let’s encourage our state government to scrap the Southwest light-rail project and focus on more immediate needs.