A majority of Minnesotans support using taxpayer dollars to build two planned Twin Cities light rail lines, according to the Star Tribune Minnesota Poll.
Fifty-four percent of those surveyed said they support public funding for the Southwest and Bottineau light rail lines, which would connect southern, western and northern suburbs to downtown Minneapolis. Thirty-four percent were opposed and the rest were undecided.
The poll results conflict with the message of Republicans at the State Capitol, who have tried to block future light rail projects.
In Hennepin and Ramsey counties, now home to the Blue and Green light rail lines, support ran highest in the poll for continuing to build out the system, with 76 percent in favor. Northern Minnesota is the only part of the state where a majority of poll participants, 52 percent, said they opposed more taxpayer money for new projects.
The poll also revealed a generational gulf around light rail. Among adults ages 18 to 34, 61 percent of those polled said they support light rail. That dropped to just 41 percent support among people over 65.
The Southwest project has long been controversial, prompting a lawsuit by a group of residents near the proposed route seeking to block the project. The Metropolitan Council has struggled to come up with the state’s funding share of the project, after legislators refused to fully support it financially over the past two years. The Bottineau light-rail project would connect downtown Minneapolis with Brooklyn Park, traveling through Golden Valley, Robbinsdale and Crystal. The $1.5 billion line has been less controversial.
If built, both lines would begin passenger service in 2021.