Thursday, July 09, 2015

Met Council approves reduced Southwest LRT scope, cost

Met Council approves reduced Southwest LRT scope, cost Metropolitan Council

The Twin Cities Metropolitan Council adopted the Southwest Corridor Management Committee resolution recommending project changes that will reduce the cost by $250 million.


"Today's vote demonstrates the momentum behind this project. 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 Chair Adam Duininck. "I think that [Hennepin County] Commissioner Jan Callison summed it up best when she said we've moved from 'shared sacrifice to shared investment'."

The formerly 15.8-mile line with 17 stations was set to open in 2019. The Green Line Extension will now open in 2020 with 14.4 miles and 15 stations at a revised cost estimate of about $1.744 billion, down from the $1.994 billion estimate in April when costs rose due to delays and test results that showed poor ground conditions and soil contamination. The project's forecasted average weekday ridership in 2040 is approximately 34,000, which is needed to retain an overall medium-high rating in the competition for federal matching funds.

"Making Southwest Station the westernmost stop maintains an important element of the project by connecting the light rail to an existing transit hub, connecting people with jobs throughout the corridor," Duininck said.

The project currently has more than $675 million in local funding commitments, including $496 million from the Counties Transit Improvement Board; $165 million from Hennepin County Regional Railroad Authority and over $14 million in state funds.

On July 7, Hennepin County approved $5 million for soil cleanup and Hopkins approved $500,000. The cities of Eden Prairie, Minnetonka and St. Louis Park are both anticipated to make commitments.

In light of reducing approximately $250 million in project scope throughout the corridor, the council is choosing to seek municipal consent from Hennepin County and the five cities and will vote on initiating municipal consent at its July 22 meeting.