Audit: Cost of delayed Minnesota light rail doubles to $2.7 billion

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — The cost of Minnesota’s most expensive public works project has more than doubled to $2.7 billion in a decade, according to a legislative audit of the Southwest Light Rail Project. released on Friday.

The report from the nonpartisan Office of the Legislative Auditor says the rail line connecting downtown Minneapolis and Eden Prairie has been delayed for nine years and 20% of the project remains unfunded. Auditors noted that the regional planning agency building the line, the Metropolitan Council, has not indicated how the shortfall will be funded.

The southwest is an extension of the green line and is over 60% complete. The Met Council said more than $1.6 billion had been spent on the project, which started in 2019.

The audit cites several causes of delays and cost overruns. They include the uncertainty of the final location of the freight rail along the route, the special construction methods needed to build a tunnel in the Kenilworth Corridor in Minneapolis, and the late addition of a security wall. separating freight and light rail just west of Target Field, the Star Tribune reported.

A memo from the legislative auditor last autumn also said a “protracted and significant” difference of opinion over construction issues between the Met Council and a major contractor on the project had also contributed to a series of cost overruns.

The Minnesota House and Senate approved the audit last March.

Met Council officials recently said 2027 was the target date for the start of passenger service – nine years later than the first planned opening date. In 2011, the cost of the project was expected to be $1.2 billion.

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Jose P. Rogers