Met Council and American Experiment Spar on Light Rail

Preya Samsundar/Alpha News MN

MINNEAPOLIS – Hennepin County Commissioner Peter McLaughlin urged his colleagues at the Metropolitan Council to prepare for a “pitched battle” with the Center of the American Experiment over the construction of the Southwest Light Rail Transit (SWLRT) project.

McLaughlin’s comments likely were in response to the Center’s report Twin Cities Traffic Congestion: It’s No Accident, published in June, which claims that, “ the unreported cause of the extraordinary delays suffered by drivers is the misplaced priorities of the Metropolitan Council and MnDOT.” The Center also launched a billboard ad campaign around the Twin Cities based on the report.

“It’s gonna be a pitched battle with the Center of the American Experiment, that we’re gonna be in here, and we’re all gonna have to engage in it. We’re gonna have to punch back,” McLaughlin said in one of a set of short audio clips published by the Center.

The audio is from a June 28 meeting of the Metropolitan Council’s Corridor Management Committee, on which McLaughlin serves.

John Hinderaker, President of the Center of the American Experiment, told Alpha News that he is surprised at what he sees as a lack of willingness by the Met Council to hold productive discussions.

“What I think is striking is how offended these people are to face opposition,” Hinderaker said. “We have produced a lengthy report, entirely factually based, and supported by research no one has questioned. We think that the report shows that the emphasis on trains is a terrible mistake.”

While Hinderaker said he could not classify the Center’s history of engagement with the Met Council and other Twin Cities government bodies as overtly successful, he does remain hopeful about the prospects of an end to the SWLRT in the near future.

“The Met Council and others like Peter McLaughlin want to make it appear as though the SWLRT is going forward,” Hinderaker said. “The reality is the current word from the Trump administration is there’s no money for the project.”

Commissioner Peter McLaughlin did not return Alpha News’ requests for comments.

Anders Koskinen