By Alex Tsatsoulis, Sierra Club Land Use and Transportation Chair
Letter to the Editor of the Star Tribune:
The Southwest Light Rail discussion is nearing a terminal point. The line is a critical link for the 21st century transitway system our region needs. Like any massive, multijurisdictional transportation infrastructure project, this train is not perfect. Yet, there is too much at stake to lose momentum and critical federal financing.
At Congressman Ellison’s Transit Equity Forum [documented by Democratic Visions] last week, it was clear North Side residents want this project. Expanded transit connections will create crucial links to employment in the southwest metro, reducing transportation costs for many families. The needs of underrepresented communities — for access to good jobs and affordable housing — must be considered. People of color are often left out of the decision making process. We have an opportunity with this project to do better.
More transit riders and less traffic will reduce our dependence on dirty tar sands oil from Canada, and create cleaner air for everyone to breathe. We must ensure stations are accessible by walking or bicycling, well-served by local bus connections, and surrounded by affordable housing, commercial development and employment opportunities.
Our shared vision for a more sustainable and resilient Twin Cities region depends on easy, affordable access to good jobs for everyone. Southwest is a vital part of that access, and we cannot afford to delay it further. Let’s get this done.