Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Minneapolis mulls streetcar funding plan

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A provision in the Minnesota state tax bill could allow "value capture district" designation for the state's largest city to advance streetcars to augment the Twin Cities growing light rail transit system.

The legislative bill would permit Minneapolis to dedicate tax revenue from several specific parcels around Minneapolis to help pay for any new streetcar line.

Mineapolis favors the approach as a way to direct more local streetcar development, which requires a higher local funding commitment (at least by percentage), as opposed to LRT, which is overseen by the Metropolitan Council.

Federal funding would remain a necessary requirement under such a plan, however. Minneapolis has received such funding for an alternatives analysis of s steetcar line along Nicollet and Central avenues, and is applying for TIGER funding to advance constuction of such a line.

The "value capture district" designated by the state for funding streetcars reportedly is similar to tax increment financing. It uses revenue from parcels near the transit line to pay off bonds issued to build it. The money could be used to pay for planning and constructing the streetcar line, including transit stations, as well as acquiring or improving public space, according to the legislation.