There was great strife a few weeks ago when Governor Pawlenty held up the state portion of the choo-choo funding as a bargaining chip as the legislative session was wrapping up and he was really raked over the coals for it. That cloud passed with no rain, it turns out, and the state portion of the funding has been restored.
Now, the largess that is the University of Minnesota is dictating that the route goes the way they want as opposed to where the alleged transit professionals say it's supposed to go. The cost to accommodate the U is a deal breaker and puts the whole thing in far greater jeopardy that the governor's tactics ever did:
The bottom line is that the University of Minnesota is a publicly funded land-grant institution. It is not a private entity and exists to serve the citizens of Minnesota. Why they are given such an influential seat at this table and why we tolerate their demand for extravagance is beyond me.
(Met Council President Peter) Bell, however, maintains the timeline must be followed if the 11-mile line is to open in 2014, and he's frustrated by the university's position insisting on a northern alignment, especially in light of the compromises made on the St. Paul end of the project, where the line was shortened and neighborhoods aren't getting all the stations they wanted. The U's opposition "has the potential to kill" the project, Bell said.
"They don't have a dime in this. ... The U is playing with everyone else's resources," he said. He was referring not only to construction costs -- estimated to rise $45 million a year for each year of delay -- but also operating costs, which he said would be $4 million more per year if the northern alignment were built.
Hey, U of M; sit down, shut up and stop raising the ante with our tax money.