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Met Council trims Minneapolis light-rail project by $250 million


The Metropolitan Council yesterday approved $250 million in cost reductions to the planned Southwest Light-Rail Transit line.

As part of the cuts, the council will eliminate the Mitchell Road Station and its accompanying park-and-ride facility in Eden Prairie, Minn., and defer the Town Center Station, meaning only the foundation and underground infrastructure for that future station platform will be built.

Southwest Station will now be the line's western-most stop, Met Council officials said in a press release.

The revisions shrink the formerly 15.8-mile line with 17 stations to 14.4 miles with 15 stations.

Following the cuts, officials put the cost of the extension at $1.744 billion, down from a $1.994 billion estimate issued in April. The latter estimate included an additional $341 million in costs due to poor ground conditions along the route.

“The corridor cities and Hennepin County really pulled together to deliver a plan to scale back the project, while preserving its ability to serve the region," said Council Chairman Adam Duininck.

The council also voted to decrease the number of off-platform station furnishings throughout the corridor by 50 percent. These included bike racks, trash cans and seating. Additionally, the light-rail vehicle fleet was reduced by five vehicles, and the size of the operations and maintenance facility was decreased.

Other cuts include:

• elimination of station art throughout the corridor;
• reducing the landscaping allowance for trees, sod and plantings at stations by 75 percent;
• decreasing the number of park-and-ride stalls from 3,834 to 2,487; and
• elimination of several trail structures.

The Green Line Extension, as the new route is also known, is expected to open in 2020.

Meanwhile, the Hennepin County Board on Monday approved an additional $5 million toward the project. The sum comes from the Environmental Response Fund, and was offered to help defray the costs of contaminated ground conditions along the route

The board is the first elected body to offer a funding commitment to the revised Southwest Light-Rail Transit line, Hennepin County officials said in a press release.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 7/9/2015