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Thursday, July 18, 2013    

Metropolitan Council unveils cost estimates to resolve freight-rail issues related to light-rail project


Options for accommodating freight-rail traffic as part of the Southwest Light-Rail Line project in the Minneapolis area will range from a low of $120 million to a high of $420 million, Metropolitan Council officials announced yesterday.

Construction of the project, known as the Green Line Extension, will require that freight-rail traffic currently operating along the preferred light-rail route in Minneapolis is either kept with adjustments or relocated to St.Louis Park, Minn., council officials said in a press release.

The options were announced last May and their price tags were released yesterday. Of the costs, $85 million to $90 million will be for changes common to all options, council officials said.

The council will seek alternate funding sources to cover some of the costs, which are not included the project's $1.25 billion budget.

In late May, the project office announced six co-location options for keeping freight-rail traffic in the Kenilworth neighborhood of Minneapolis where light-rail tracks would also be built. Two other options call for relocating freight-rail traffic to St. Louis Park. Since then, project engineers revised the options based on feedback from public open houses held over the past two months.

The cost estimates for all eight options include adjustments to light rail to accommodate freight rail, capital improvements, right-of-way acquisition, contingencies and other costs, such as design and finance costs.

For co-location options, the cost estimates are:

• all modes at ground level, $50 to $55 million;
• trail relocated from Midtown Greenway to  Cedar Lake Parkway, including train overpass structures, $35 to $40 million;
• new elevated trail, $50 million to $55 million;
• a new light-rail elevated structure, $105 million to $110 million;
• a Kenilworth deep light-rail tunnel, which would entail reconstruction of West Lake Street Bridge, subway tunnel station at West Lake and eliminates 21st Street Station, $320 million to $330 million; and
• Kenilworth shallow light-rail tunnel, which would entail cut-and-cover excavation, retention of the West Lake Street Station and elimination of 21st Street Station, $150 million to $160 million.

For relocation options, the cost estimates are:

• Brunswick West alignment, which would involve construction of freight rail bridge structures, lowering a frontage road and reconfiguration of local roads, $200 million to $210 million; and
• Brunswick Central alignment, which would involve construction of an overhead freight bridge, lowering Highway 7 and frontage road, and reconfiguration of local roads, $190 million to $200 million.

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