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Minneapolis light-rail project cost jumps to $2 billion

The cost increase stemmed from freight-rail negotations, additional environmental analysis and several other factors.
Photo – Eric Wheeler, Metro Transit


Metro Transit's Southwest light-rail project has jumped in price by $145 million to more than $2 billion, Metropolitan Council Chair Alene Tchourumoff said Tuesday in a project update.

The cost increase is due to factors such as freight-rail negotiations, additional environmental analysis and the rebidding of the civil contracting, Tchourumoff wrote to the council's corridor management committee.

In addition, property acquisition costs have gone up as property values have increased since appraisals in 2016 and 2017. The cost of materials such as steel and labor also have increased.

"Because the federal government capped its contribution in 2016, any additional cost will be borne by the local funding partners," she wrote.

Project leaders plan to ask Hennepin County and the Hennepin County Regional Railroad Authority to cover the funding gap.

Met Council officials have worked with the county to implement cost-cutting measures, such as reallocating some functions for the planned operations and maintenance facility in Hopkins to existing facilities.

In September 2017, the Met Council rejected the four civil construction bids it received for the project. The council determined all the bids were "too high and nonresponsive," Tchourumoff said.

The council reissued the invitation to bid in October 2017 with changes to address the issues.

"It's important I point out that we would not have been able to move forward with awarding the bid in 2017, even if cost and responsiveness had not been an issue," Tchourumoff added. "The bids are only valid for 90 days; given the additional environmental work we were directed to complete, we would not have been able to wrap it up and award the contract before that 90-day window expired."

An extension of Metro Transit's Green Line, the 14.5-mile Southwest project would run from downtown Minneapolis to St. Louis Park, Hopkins, Minnetonka and Eden Prairie, Minnesota.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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