Friday, July 19, 2013

Metropolitan Council unveils cost estimates to resolve freight, light-rail issues

Construction of the Southwest Light Rail Transit (LRT) line in Minnesota (Green Line Extension) may require freight rail traffic currently running along the preferred LRT route to be kept with adjustments or relocated to St. Louis Park.

 

Planners for the Southwest LRT Project proposed eight options in May for either relocating freight traffic to St. Louis Park or keeping it in Minneapolis. Now, estimated costs for the eight options, which range from a low of $120 million to a high of $420 million, were announced. Of this, $85 million to $90 million is for changes common to all options.

The Metropolitan Council will look for alternate funding sources to cover some of these costs since these amounts are not included in the project's $1.25 billion estimated budget. Funding partners include the federal government, Minnesota Department of Transportation, the Counties Transit Improvement Board and the Hennepin County Regional Railroad Authority.

On May 28, the project office announced six co-location options for keeping freight rail traffic in the Kenilworth neighborhood of Minneapolis where LRT tracks would also be built. Two other options relocate freight rail traffic to St. Louis Park.

Since then, project engineers have revised these options based on feedback from the public. Better pedestrian and bicycle connections have been added to the two relocation options.

For each co-location option, the number of homes expected to be taken has either been reduced significantly or eliminated entirely. Specifically, in all but one of the six co-location options full acquisition of homes could be eliminated.

The cost estimates for all eight options include adjustments to LRT to accommodate freight rail, capital improvements, right-of-way acquisition, contingency and other costs, such as design and finance costs. The estimates are based on 2013 costs.

For co-location, cost estimates and primary cost drivers are:

All modes (trail, freight and LRT) at ground level – $50 million to $55 million. Reduces full residential property acquisitions from 55 to 26.

Trail relocated - $35 million to $40 million – New trail route from Midtown Greenway to Cedar Lake Parkway, including trail overpass structures. Avoids full residential property acquisitions.

Trail elevated - $50 million to $55 million – New elevated trail, including handicapped accessible connection to Cedar Lake Parkway. Avoids full residential property acquisitions.

LRT elevated - $105 million to $110 million – New elevated LRT structure. Avoids full residential property acquisitions.

Kenilworth deep LRT tunnel – $320 million to $330 million –Tunnel-boring operations and machinery, reconstruction of West Lake Street Bridge, subway tunnel station at West Lake and eliminates 21st Street Station. Avoids full residential property acquisitions.

Kenilworth shallow LRT tunnel – $150 million to $160 million –Cut-and-cover excavation, retains West Lake Street Station and eliminates 21st Street Station. Avoids full residential property acquisitions.

For relocation, cost estimates and primary cost drivers are:

Brunswick West alignment (through St. Louis Park High School football field) – $200 million to $210 million – Full or partial acquisition of 46 homes, businesses or public properties; construction of freight rail bridge structures, lowering of frontage road at Highway 7 and reconfiguration of local roads.

Brunswick Central alignment (avoids St. Louis Park High School football field) – $190 million to $200 million – Full or partial acquisition of 32 homes, businesses and public properties; construction of overhead freight bridge; lowering of Highway 7 and frontage road and reconfiguration of local roads.

Project advisory committees will be meeting, as will the Corridor Management Committee, in the coming weeks. The council is scheduled to meet August 28 to approve the scope and cost.



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