Southwest LRT Costs Hit $2B
Cost projections for the Southwest Light Rail line soared to $2 billion, according to new analysis by the Metropolitan Council, throwing into doubt the viability of the line.
Poor ground conditions and soil contamination will bring the total budget to $1.994 billion – about $341 million more than previously estimated. The Council also pushed back the date the line could open, saying it would happen in 2020, rather than late 2019.
Gov. Mark Dayton called into question whether construction of the line could proceed, saying in a statement, “The continuing escalation of the costs to design and build this line raise serious questions about its viability and affordability.”
The report released by the Met Council identified additional costs for retaining walls, refining design to account for contamination in St. Louis Park and Hopkins and dealing with impacted wetlands in Eden Prairie. It also noted that several street crossings would require safety improvements and 99 additional business would need to relocated—a number that now sits at 146 total.
“The additional costs for the Southwest LRT project pose significant challenges for our funding partners and taxpayers,” Met Council chairman Adam Duininck said in a statement.
He said all options will be on the table as he approached local communities, funders and the legislative leaders to determine the fate of the line.
Should the line proceed, it will almost certainly need to be pared down with Duininck saying, “As we weigh our options, I have directed our engineers and contractors to pursue every possible efficiency to achieve cost savings.”