Minnesota Senate unanimously approves light rail audit

The Minnesota Senate voted unanimously on Monday to approve an audit of a more than $2 billion light rail line that has been marred by delays and huge cost overruns since the transit project began in common in 2019.

The bill allocates $200,000 to the legislative auditor’s office to conduct a special examination of the Southwest Light Rail Transit project, which is shaping up to be one of the costliest public works projects in history. of State. The audit will include assessments of project costs and overruns, changes to the project schedule, qualifications of project management personnel, and quality of construction, among other criteria.

It also requires the Metropolitan Council to provide project updates to lawmakers every six months and to immediately notify lawmakers if project costs are 5% over budget than they already are.

“What happened here, in my mind, is literally criminal as to how the taxpayers – whether federal, state or county – how badly they are being treated by the Met Council on this project” said Scott, chairman of the Republican Senate Transportation Committee. Newman, of Hutchinson, said on the court Monday. “They’ve come too far to stop and it’s too expensive to move on. What will they do? Keep wasting taxpayers’ money.

The 14.5-mile Green Line extension, which is about 60% complete, will connect downtown Minneapolis to southwestern suburbs that include St. Louis Park, Hopkins and Eden Prairie. The project is now estimated at $2.75 billion and will be ready for passengers by 2027, costing hundreds of millions of dollars more and four years later than originally planned.

The increased costs and delays are due to lane construction issues, including in a narrow corridor between two lakes in Minneapolis, where there have been severe groundwater and soil issues, and a complex of condominiums suffered damage attributed to the project.

Democratic Sen. Scott Dibble of Minneapolis, the bill’s author, said he and House Transportation Committee Chairman Frank Hornstein asked legislative auditors last summer to conduct a preliminary review of the project last summer.

A note from the auditors in October pointed to a “prolonged and significant” difference of opinion between the Met Council and a third-party contractor on construction issues.

The Minnesota House passed the bill last week 129-1. Minor changes to the Senate version passed Monday require final House approval.

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