After almost a year delay, the Metropolitan Council today opened bids for the Southwest Light Rail Transit (SWLRT) project that appear to save $100-$200 million compared to bids rejected a year ago as “nonresponsive.” The price tag for the 14.5-mile line linking downtown Minneapolis with Eden Prairie is $1.9 billion, which includes planning, design, environmental review and right-of-way acquisition.

As the lead agency on the project, the council decided to re-issue its invitation to bid on the project after rejecting the first round of bids last September. Consideration of the bids potentially puts the state’s largest public works project back on track. The two bids opened today were:

  • Lunda/C.S. McCrossan – $799,514,338.22
  • Ames Kraemer – $812,125,583

Next Steps

While there is an “apparent low bidder,” members of the council’s staff will now review the bids to make sure they include all construction activities, requirements for things such as workers’ compensation and unemployment insurance, performance bonds, and state and federal legal requirements, including Disadvantaged Business Enterprise goals (16 percent is the goal for the civil construction contract). Next, the council will seek consent of its funding partners, including Hennepin County and the Federal Transit Administration (FTA).

Recent Project Milestones

In making today’s announcement, the Metropolitan Council identified significant progress on the project in recent months:

  • In February the council and FTA published the Supplemental Environmental Assessment. The council will vote on that document in May.
  • The council has acquired nearly half of the property needed for the project, with relocation of displaced businesses underway or complete.
  • Construction workers have been hired and construction support contracts are in place.
  • Congress enacted its largest single-year appropriation ever this year for transit way projects like SWLRT in its Federal Transit Capital Investment Grant (CIG) Program.

If all goes according to plan, rail service will begin on the new line in 2023. SWLRT will serve as an extension of the Metro Green Line that now connects downtown St. Paul with the University of Minnesota and downtown Minneapolis. The extension will add St. Louis Park, Hopkins, Minnetonka and Eden Prairie to the line with 15 new stations.

Source: Metropolitan Council