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New FTA Rules Buoy Streetcar Fans


Twin Cities streetcar supporters are among many around the country celebrating the Federal Transit Administration's decision to change its funding criteria that moves away from narrow cost and performance criteria to a consideration of all the factors that help communities reduce their carbon footprint, spur economic activity, and relieve congestion.

Sam Zimbabwe, director of the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Transit-Oriented Development, told Finance & Commerce, a Minneapolis business newspaper, that while this change does not make any more federal money available for transit projects, it's “a tremendously important Step 1. Because, like it or not, these federal rules push the shape that local projects take.”

The federal change is seen as a major victory for those advocating for three extra stations for the Central Corridor light rail line. Under the old rules, the inclusion of the stations would have pushed the project below federal funding standards for efficiency.

Nancy Homans, policy director for St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman, told  Finance & Commerce that the policy change will “make it easier” both to spend the city’s money to build that first station and for the city “to add the two [other] stations as alternatives” in some retroactive fashion.

Zimbabwe is hopeful things can be worked out so the Central Corridor can now add the three extra stations.

“Regardless of what happens with the three stations, the Central Corridor is a very important investment for the Twin Cities – the three stations will make it even better,” Zimbabwe said.

For more about the policy change, see this story.

The Finance & Commerce story is here.