Projected costs leap for Vikes stadium walking bridge

Downtown skyline
U.S. Bank Stadium during construction, July 20, 2015.
Jeffrey Thompson | MPR News file

A controversial pedestrian bridge connecting the new Minnesota Vikings Stadium in Minneapolis to a nearby light rail station could cost nearly 40 percent more than previously projected.

Metro Transit received only two bids for the project from builders LS Black Constructors and Shaw Lundquist. Both were close to $10 million. In July, planners had estimated the bridge would cost $7 million — with the team and taxpayers splitting the bill.

Talks with the team continue, said Metro Transit spokesperson Howie Padilla.

"The truth of the matter is right now we don't have a signed agreement with the Minnesota Vikings, the (Minnesota) Sports Facilities Authority," he said. "What we're going to be doing right now is we're going to continue to work with our partners to assess the project, and this information that has come forward, and we're going to determine what our next steps are."

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The bridge would let fans safely cross over light rail tracks and traffic lanes at Chicago Avenue. Up to 40 percent of fans are expected to use transit to access the stadium.

Pedestrian bridge
A rendering of the proposed pedestrian bridge at U.S. Bank Stadium.
Courtesy of Metropolitan Council

Under the tentative agreement from July, the Vikings contribution was capped at $3.5 million. Metro Transit agreed to shoulder any cost overruns.

This spring, members of the Met Council questioned whether the bridge was worth the cost, given that only 20 events a year are expected to draw capacity crowds to the stadium — most of them Vikings games. At the time, the bridge was estimated to cost $5.5 million to $6 million.

That was later increased to $7 million because Metro Transit and the Vikings decided to widen the bridge from 25 feet to 30 feet, allowing fans to exit the stadium more efficiently.

Cities and counties around the metro area have also reported higher-than-expected bids for major projects, thanks to the Twin Cities building boom. The region set a record for construction permits last year, thanks in part to publicly funded mega-projects like the Vikings stadium.