Met Council approves use of contingency funds and next steps to advance METRO Green Line Extension

Date: Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Agreement and Met Council action establish foundation for projected opening day and total budget

The Metropolitan Council voted to authorize staff to proceed with a settlement agreement related to the METRO Green Line Extension project to establish construction milestones, expend project contingency funds, and create a dispute resolution process to expedite resolution of issues related to construction.

Specifically, the action authorizes Met Council staff to negotiate and finalize an agreement with Lunda McCrossan Joint Venture, the contractor for the current phase of construction (track, stations, and structures), make payments owed, including using contingency funds, and establish a future payment schedule.

“We are grateful to reach this milestone, which is the first step toward finalizing our project schedule and final budget,” said Nick Thompson, director of transit capital programs. “We know our project partners and people in the region have been anxious for us to clarify what we need to do to finish this important project.”

A number of major elements have been added to this construction phase through change orders since the initial contract:

  • Constructing a barrier protection wall between the BNSF freight and LRT tracks, as part of the safety agreement with BNSF
  • Changing construction methods to include a secant (retaining) wall for the Kenilworth Tunnel in Minneapolis, due to proximity to and sensitivity of nearby structures
  • Adding the construction of the Eden Prairie Town Center station, originally deferred but added back in to meet community priorities

These changes are significant elements that add time, cost, and complexity to the project. Wednesday’s Council action paves the way for future phases of the project, including systems construction (which includes the elements that power the train and allow for communication) and operational testing and logistics needed prior to launching service. To reach this point, project leaders and the contractor have been working to reorder the milestones remaining on the project.

This reordering means that the track, stations, and structures phase is anticipated to be completed in 2025, and service would be launched sometime in 2027. In addition to the contingency funds, project leaders estimate needing an additional $450 million to $550 million to finish the project.

“We will exceed the time and budget we initially anticipated,” Thompson said. “But we are confident we’re doing what needs to be done to complete this project, to meet community needs, and to address concerns related to adjacent properties, while still capitalizing on the economic development benefits of an infrastructure project of this nature.”

Though significant, the additional costs reflect and represent lower per-mile costs than similar transit infrastructure costs in peer cities. Met Council leaders emphasized the organizational commitment to complete the project, which will improve mobility in the corridor and provide important connections for businesses along the line to provide a transit option for their employees. In addition, the project brings significant economic benefits, and has already garnered more than $2 billion in committed and planned development near the corridor, including affordable housing development.

“We learn from each of these unique projects the need to be flexible and responsive, particular to community and funding partners,” said Met Council Chair Charlie Zelle. “In hindsight, we really could have done more to help illustrate and communicate the potential complications that come with a project of this magnitude. While the cost and time needed to finish this project are significant, it’s still more cost-effective than projects in other parts of the country. As we’ve done since this project began 40 years ago, we will work with our project partners to finish this important piece of our system.”

Posted In: Transportation