An infusion of federal money is available for the Central Corridor light rail project, but the chair of the Metropolitan Council recommends holding off using it to build an additional station favored by community residents.
The federal government's annual inflation adjustment for transit projects in this country amounts to nearly $16 million additional dollars for the Central Corridor light rail project. That increases the projected price tag of the project from about to about $928 million.
Met Council officials have said their first priority in case additional money for the project becomes available is to build an additional station at either Hamline, Victoria or Western avenues as they cross the University avenue route in St. Paul.
Met Council chair Peter Bell says adding station plans at this point could cause delays of as much as a year. Bell favors waiting until the line is under construction before there's talk of another station.
"My view is it might be better to do the infill station, as we did the Fridley station on Northstar, with dollars that would come into the project from contingency and other places," he said.
Bell says using the inflation dollars to build the add on station would likely require additional environmental review by the FTA and that, Bell says, could delay the project up to a year. Delay of a year, officials have estimated, could add millions of additional cost to the project.
The 11-mile line from downtown St. Paul to Minneapolis is still waiting for federal approval to enter final design, which is expected in October.
Metropolitan Council officials say they expect the full funding grant agreement from the Federal Transit Administration to be signed in about a year. The FTA is being counted on to pay for half the cost of the project.