Independent Review Report
Office of Legislative Auditor releases special review on the project's budget and timeline
The Office of the Legislative Auditor has released a report capturing the findings of a special, independent review to outline the budget and timeline for the METRO Green Line Extension project, currently under construction between Eden Prairie and downtown Minneapolis. The project will also directly serve the cities of Minnetonka, Hopkins, and St. Louis Park.
Special review complete
The Southwest Light Rail Transit: Project Budget and Timeline report (PDF) identifies the main reasons for the increased cost and delay of the 14.5-mile extension of the existing METRO Green Line (which operates between downtown Saint Paul and downtown Minneapolis). Specifically, the report captures the construction methods and safety investments that have added cost and time to the project, as well as adjustments in response to local contributions to the project.
Thorough review of timeline and budget
Though no one report can provide the necessary detail of the nearly 40 years of project history, including thousands of public meetings and multiple studies and reports, this report documents a number of important elements:
- An accurate picture of the project timeline since the 1980s
- The complexity of designing and constructing a large, public infrastructure project adjacent to and within private freight railroad right-of-way
- The framework of project development and balancing within the process for the federal New Starts capital grant program, environmental review, and municipal consent laws
- The ways the project budget and scope have been communicated to the public, project partners, and project funders at the local, state, and federal levels
“We appreciate the care and detailed work undertaken by the legislative auditor in the review of the project’s timeline and budget,” said Metropolitan Council Chair Charlie Zelle. “We appreciate the professional manner in which the team carefully documented the main drivers of change on the project’s budget and timeline.”
Provides helpful context
While the report only covers the years the Met Council has managed the project and does not provide detail back to the project’s first years of study, it shows us what has gone well, and areas of improvement. This is an ongoing process. We have formed a cross-divisional team to discuss the results and find ways to improve.
This independent review has provided great opportunities to better serve the needs of the region. When finished, the METRO Green Line Extension will be world-class and will serve us all well for decades to come.
“We believe it confirms we‘ve been transparent with the timelines and budget. The report validates that we as an organization did not make these decisions independently. It shows that for the past 40 years, several community partners have been engaged in all the discussions and decision-making,” Zelle said. “We strongly believe accountability and transparency are critical to ensuring public programs and projects are run and managed efficiently. It is also important to guarantee accountability and transparency because things do not always go as planned.”