To listen to the governor and new GOP House leaders, 2015 is to be the year of transportation. The always-delayed, never-acted-upon quest for long-term dedicated road and transit funding calibrated to contemporary needs is finally on the horizon.

After all, Transportation Commissioner Charlie Zelle has been traveling the state saying a $12 billion funding gap exists just to maintain existing roads and bridges. Ask local government officials — infrastructure and mobility top their lists of concerns. The same is typically true of the public.

The media seem to have taken it as a given that these initiatives have the skids greased. Just this month Metro Transit was promoting systemwide signage improvements and bus service expansion in the works (funding pending).

But talk to insiders at the State Capitol and in local government units and you hear a different story. Of long odds, irreconcilable differences between urban and rural, the taxers and the anti-taxers. Same old, same old.

Since Rudy Perpich left office in 1991, the only small movement on comprehensive statewide transportation funding happened on a veto override after the Interstate 35W bridge collapse. Why does an issue that resonates with so much of the public elicit so little enthusiasm in St. Paul?

Because transportation doesn't play to natural DFL constituencies (except unions), which prefer more blatant symbols of social and economic justice. It reinforces a rural-urban split among the party. And it involves large sums of spending — often just to maintain what we have — which plays against GOP predilections.

Of greatest short-term concern is the effort that must be funded next year if it is not to stall — Southwest light rail. Dogged as it has been by controversy, it seems in a constant state of jeopardy. The current threat is an environmental lawsuit filed by residents of the Kenilworth corridor and an impending lawsuit by the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board.

The lawsuits' chances are difficult to handicap, but Southwest and all future Twin Cities transit projects have a more formidable and inflexible foe — the new Republican majority in the Minnesota House.

One senior DFL legislator I spoke with compared the GOP caucus's opposition to rail and transit to its 1980s preoccupation with ending abortion. He questioned the governor's ability to pass a bonding bill that includes the remaining $121 million of the state's share of Southwest funding or any package that includes transit funds. (The Metropolitan Council believes it has the bonding capacity to fund the state's share of Southwest, but would prefer not to use it.)

It wasn't supposed to go this way. Infrastructure advocates were encouraged by Gov. Mark Dayton's election and the ensuing DFL takeover of both state houses in 2012 because it portended real movement on transportation funding. Yet when the all-DFL state government got down to business in 2013, transportation was left at the altar — as it was in the Pawlenty, Ventura and Carlson administrations. The word was that the House, Senate and governor could not agree on how to approach it and decided to act the next year.

In the 2014 session, despite progress on divisive issues like minimum wage, a long-term funding mechanism for roads and transit was held back. Insiders say that the governor did not want to burden himself or his party with a tax increase as voters went to the polls.

No one I've talked to at the Capitol since the election believes comprehensive transportation funding that includes transit is anything but the remotest of long shots under divided government. We like to tell ourselves in Minnesota that we do it better, but we have not, for decades, and when the unique opportunity presented itself over the last two years, the DFL passed.

Sources in state and regional government have told me the Federal Transit Administration, which pays for half the cost of all major transit starts, is on record with its "concern" over our lack of a predictable funding source for transit projects, which in turn diminishes how those projects are ranked in federal funding priority.

Virtually all pathways go through the Legislature. Though the 0.25 percent transit sales tax metro residents have paid since 2008 was enacted at the county level — after Gov. Tim Pawlenty's veto was overridden at the Capitol — it had to be authorized in St. Paul.

Politics is simply crushing the region's mobility prospects and the economic potential that comes hand in hand. It's so far beyond the pale that even in the two years the DFL could have moved forward by fiat, it could not settle on a strategy.

Welcome to 1990.

Adam Platt is executive editor of Twin Cities Business magazine.