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Test results and project delays have increased the total cost of the Minneapolis area's Southwest light-rail transit (LRT) project to nearly $2 billion, the Metropolitan Council announced this morning. The added $341 million in costs are primarily related to poor ground conditions along the Southwest route and soil contamination in St. Louis Park and Hopkins, Minn. Additionally, the line's proposed opening has been delayed a year to 2020, council officials said in a press release.Also known as the Metro Green Line Extension, the proposed project would operate light-rail service from downtown Minneapolis through the communities of St. Louis Park, Hopkins, Minnetonka and Eden Prairie. The proposed alignment includes 17 new stations and 16 miles of double track."The additional costs for the Southwest LRT Project pose significant challenges for our funding partners and taxpayers," said Council Chairman Adam Duininck. "I will be talking with our funding partners, local communities, and legislative leaders to determine the future of this project – all options are on the table."The Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement was supposed to be published in January 2014, but is now expected to be published in late May by the Federal Transit Administration, officials said. As a result, the project's completion has moved from 2019 to 2020.The delay was the result of additional engineering and environmental studies, from December 2014 through early this spring, as part of the council's due diligence on the project. The tests were done to determine the soil's ability to support structures and to determine the limits of wetlands and floodplains that would be affected by construction. The council used that information to update the original project cost from $1.653 billion to $1.994 billion.
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