More details are emerging of the change orders on the Southwest LRT project in Minnesota.
Federal Transit Administrator Nuria Fernandez toured the construction site on Aug. 25, but did not give any indication if the federal government will be providing any more funding for the project. If change orders continue, local and federal funding will be the only way out. The price of the Southwest LRT project now sits at $2.2 billion, making it the most expensive in Minnesota history. The Metropolitan Council OK’d the use of the final $200 million available for the work.
However, Metropolitan Council Chairman Charlie Zelle admitted on Aug. 25 that he does not know what the final cost will be. The Council approved a $30 million change order for a retaining wall in the Kenilworth Corridor, which has been a trouble spot. It was the seventh multi-million dollar change order approved over the last five months. Earlier in the year the Council gave the green light for an $82 million change order dealing with a crash protection wall just north of I-394 in Minneapolis. More money also has been used for contaminated soils, three additional years of equipment storage, grout work, and project management support.
The Metropolitan Council also has rearranged work on the project, moving some of it to be addressed further down the line.
Fernandez said project construction is 50% complete and almost 100% of the contracts have been awarded, so cost uncertainty, she believed, has been reduced.