TRANSIT: Minnesota agency delays Southwest light-rail contract for third time

May 31, 2017

The construction contract for the light-rail project is expected to be at least $100 million

Minnesota's Metro Transit has delayed the start of contractor bidding for the third time for the $1.9 billion Southwest light-rail line from downtown Minneapolis to Eden Prairie, setting the project back to later this fall.

Despite the delay, transit authorities say passenger service would still begin in 2021.

The news comes at a time when federal funding for big transit projects like Southwest is uncertain. President Trump's $4.1 trillion fiscal 2018 budget only funds transit lines that have grant agreements in place by October, not likely to be the case with Southwest, which is banking on $929 million from the Federal Transit Administration to pay for half the project's cost.

The 14.5-mile Southwest line is complicated—with 29 new bridges, two tunnels for trains and six for pedestrians, more than 100 retaining walls, and modifications to seven existing bridges.

The Metropolitan Council, which is building the line, has not revealed the expected amount of the construction contract, but it is expected to be well over $100 million.

Local funding must be shored up before the federal government considers a matching grant.

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Source: Star-Tribune (Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minn.)