Park Board should reconsider its stance on bridge project

Gov. Mark Dayton and the state Park Board are at odds over a bridge project in the Twin Cities.

Jared Rogers-Martin

A marquee fight is shaping up in the local Minneapolis government over a $1.6 billion prize: connecting the Green Line light rail to southwest Minneapolis. The Minnesota Parks and Recreation Board threw the fiscal gauntlet down before Gov. Mark Dayton by hiring expensive engineering consultant firms to halt the largest transportation project in Minnesota history.

In retaliation, Gov. Dayton designated $3.6 million in budget cuts to the Park Board. Dayton might reconsider the cuts if the Park Board falls in line with his transportation plan. This is a tempting offer, as the Park Board already struggles to find funding for its projects.

The strife centers on a mixed-use freight-and-pedestrian bridge.

Dayton’s plan would reconstruct the bridge to allow shared access with the light rail, but the Park Board wants more engineering studies conducted first.

While metaphoric punches get thrown in government offices, the bruising occurs in the wallets of taxpayers who pay for the Park Board’s costly surveys, the price of delaying construction and the potential loss of connecting Minneapolis to its suburbs.

These petty political contests, which waste time and money, are made worse by the fact that the cities of Eden Prairie, Hopkins and St. Louis Park have already agreed to the Metropolitan Council’s light rail plan and currently await the revenue that public transportation
generates.

The Park Board needs to fall in line with the rest of the city and  back off of its fight over a single bridge.

Unfortunately, building bridges is no walk in the park.