Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Heavy construction starts in August on Robert St. for Twin Cities LRT

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Shovels will start digging for the Central Corridor LRT line in August east of the Capitol where work will begin on Robert and 12th streets north of Interstate 94, the Central Corridor Project Office said today. Utility relocations in this area will be done concurrently with LRT construction.

Some utility relocation work in advance of construction along University Avenue between the Westgate and Rice Street stations, as well as along Cedar Street in St. Paul, could begin this summer and fall. However, the schedule for utility relocation along University is not firmly established yet. 

Heavy construction is not expected to start on the western end of University Avenue in St. Paul until spring 2011 and on the eastern end until spring 2012.

The Federal Transit Administration is expected to execute a Full Funding Grant Agreement in September. An FFGA is the federal government's commitment to reimburse half the cost of building the $957-million line. The plan requests 50 percent from the federal government, 30 percent from the Counties Transit Improvement Board, 10 percent from the state, 7 percent from Ramsey County, 3 percent from Hennepin County and lesser amounts from St. Paul and the Central Corridor Funders Collaborative. For construction to begin before an FFGA, the FTA will have to issue Letters of No Prejudice, which are promises to reimburse project partners for half the construction costs if the federal agency later approves an FFGA.

Work on the civil east construction package will be in segments, which will be divided into smaller portions with input from the contractor. More specific information will be available once the contractor is hired by summer and the work schedule is developed. The project's construction communication plan calls for 30-day public notification before work, excluding unforeseen circumstances, begins in any given area. The project office has created an online sign-up form for the public to fill out and submit to receive weekly construction updates and a monthly newsletter. The form is at http://www.metrocouncil.org/transportation/ccorridor/CCLRTSubscribe.htm

The civil east construction segments are:

• University Avenue from the city limits at Emerald Street to Hamline Avenue will be under heavy construction from March 2011 to November 2011, when road reconstruction is expected to be substantially complete.  • University from Hamline to Robert will be under construction from March 2012, with road reconstruction expected to be substantially complete by November 2012. • Road reconstruction on Fourth Street in St. Paul will be substantially complete by November 2010. Utility relocation in advance of heavy construction began in this area last year and is expected to finish by fall. • Work to demolish the vacant Bremer Bank building where the tracks will be built on a diagonal from Cedar Street to Fourth is anticipated to start in April 2011. Building removal and work to reconnect the skyway will be substantially completed by November 2011. • Heavy construction on Cedar is to start in April 2011. Road reconstruction should be substantially completed by November 2012.

• Robert and 12th east and south of the Capitol should have road reconstruction substantially complete by November 2010. 

The civil east construction package includes:

• Relocating utilities necessary for the LRT trackway.

• Constructing nearly seven miles of embedded double track.

• Fully reconstructing streets where track is being installed.

• Building 14 stations from Westgate to Union Depot.

• Modifying two bridges (on University over Highway 280 and on Cedar over Interstates 94 and 35E).

• Installing concrete paving for signalized intersections.

• Building an infiltration trench for collecting storm water.

• Constructing at-grade pedestrian crossings.

• Demolishing the vacant Bremer Bank building, reconnecting the skyway.

The project office released the civil east construction bid documents last week to qualified bidders and will open bids this spring. The Metropolitan Council will award the civil east construction contract by summer.

Contractor incentives being built into the two main civil construction packages are intended to encourage responsiveness, create a partnership between contractors and the community and promote cooperation. The civil west contract, which includes work around the University of Minnesota, has a $250,000 incentive. The civil east contract in St. Paul has a $600,000 incentive. Quarterly incentives will range from $10,000 to $70,000. The process of awarding incentives begins with the creation of construction coordinating committees. The project office will form the committees this spring to review performance standards and recommend award of incentives.

Evaluation criteria will include conformance with notification requirements, timely response to public concerns, maintenance of vehicle access and accessible pedestrian routes and cleanliness of construction sites. About the Central Corridor LRT Project: The Central Corridor Light Rail Transit Project will link downtown St. Paul and downtown Minneapolis along Washington and University avenues via the state Capitol and University of Minnesota. Construction would begin in late summer 2010 on the planned 11-mile Central Corridor line, with service beginning in 2014. The line will connect with the Hiawatha LRT line at the Metrodome station in Minneapolis and the Northstar commuter rail line at the new Target Field Station. The Metropolitan Council would be the grantee of federal funds. The regional government agency is charged with building the line in partnership with the Minnesota Department of Transportation. The Central Corridor Management Committee, which includes the mayors of St. Paul and Minneapolis, commissioners from Ramsey and Hennepin counties and the University of Minnesota, provides advice and oversight.

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