Southwest light rail costs are revised up

Proposed SWLRT route
Clients arrive at Opportunity Partners in Minnetonka, Minn. Wednesday, March 21, 2012. The proposed Southwest Light Rail Transit line near Opportunity Partners could benefit many of the employees and clients, and ease the use of other public transportation including buses and Metro Mobility vans.
MPR Photo/Jeffrey Thompson

The cost of building a light rail line from Minneapolis to Eden Prairie will exceed earlier estimates by at least $120 million.

Planners previously estimated the cost of the Southwest light rail transit line at $1.25 billion. The project's higher cost is because of the line's proximity to existing freight rail tracks, according to the Metropolitan Council.

Relocating freight traffic to St. Louis Park would add up to $300 million to project's cost. Burying part of the light rail line could cost more than $400 million. The least-costly option would move a bike trail that currently runs along the freight line in Minneapolis. In all, engineers have developed eight options to keep Southwest light rail transit and freight rail lines from interfering with one another.

"Certainly cost is a consideration, but it's not the sole consideration," said, Mark Fuhrmann, who leads the project for the Metropolitan Council. "What the Met Council will be pursuing is: What is the best long-term investment for this corridor and for this freight rail question."

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A breakdown of additional ranging costs associated with each option is shown below.

Trail, freight and LRT at ground level - $135 million to $145 million.
Trail relocated - $120 million to $130 million
Trail elevated - $135 million to $145 million
LRT elevated - $190 million to $200 million
Kenilworth deep LRT tunnel - $405 million to $420 million
Kenilworth shallow LRT tunnel - $235 million to $250 million

Brunswick West alignment - Routes through St. Louis Park High School football field. $285 million to $300 million
Brunswick Central alignment - Avoids St. Louis Park High School football field. $275 million to $290 million

The council will make a decision in August and then seek funding from state, federal and local sources.