Southwest Light-Rail Costs Climb Even Higher

About a week after the project’s planners raised their cost estimate from $1.25 billion to $1.67 billion, they tacked on another $150 million.

After Twin Cities Business’ April cover story explored the conflict between The Twin Cities & Western Railroad and planners of the Southwest Corridor light-rail line, news surfaced that several options were being considered for how to deal with existing freight-train traffic.

Cost estimates released earlier this month showed that mitigating the conflict could cause the project’s cost to balloon from $1.25 billion to nearly $1.7 billion.

Now, the price tag is even bigger.

Project planners late last week increased the estimated cost to as high as $1.82 billion, according to a Star Tribune report.

Construction of the line, which would connect downtown Minneapolis and Eden Prairie, is slated to begin in 2015. But the federal government, which is expected to foot half of the bill, has insisted that local entities resolve a dispute over the re-location of existing freight trains before proceeding.

Mitigating that freight traffic issue was expected to account for up to $420 million of the increased costs, which explains the first increase from $1.25 billion to $1.67 billion. But planners now say that acquiring rights for stations and park-and-rides, as well as building bridges, is expected to cost up to another $150 million, the Star Tribune reported.