Kimley-Horn, AECOM chosen to begin preliminary engineering

Date: Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Kimley-Horn and AECOM will begin the preliminary engineering work within the coming weeks on the region’s third light rail line. The line will support one of the largest business/employment corridors in the state by serving 210,000 jobs the day it opens, as well as serving an anticipated 60,000 additional jobs that will be created in the corridor by 2030. 

The Council voted today to authorize its regional administrator to execute a contract up to $16.8 million with Kimley-Horn for the eastern half of the 15-mile line and a contract of up to $16.8 million with AECOM for the line’s western half. Both firms have successfully designed complex light rail projects.

“This is the next step in building a 21st century transit system for the Twin Cities region,” said Met Council Chair Susan Haigh. “Recent studies by the Itasca Project clearly demonstrate the return on investment for transit is substantial. Building Southwest light rail is a major part of achieving those positive results for our economy.” 

Preliminary engineering will help the Met Council decide exactly where stations should be built, whether to build LRT next to existing freight rail traffic or relocate the freight rail traffic, where to locate park and rides and an operation and maintenance facility and whether to design crossings at grade or build bridges or tunnels for the LRT tracks. The Met Council will hire a different engineering firm to provide independent peer review of the preliminary engineering from both companies.

Construction is expected to begin in 2015 on the 15-mile line linking downtown Minneapolis with the southwestern suburban cities of St. Louis Park, Hopkins, Minnetonka and Eden Prairie and passing in close proximity to Edina. When the line opens in 2018, it would connect with the Central 

Corridor (Green Line) at Target Field Station, meaning riders boarding in Eden Prairie could ride to downtown St. Paul without changing trains. At Target Field Station, riders would be able to transfer to Hiawatha trains (Blue Line) headed for the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport and Mall of America or Northstar commuter rail trains headed 40 miles north to Big Lake. 

The cost of the $1.25 billion line will be divided among contributions from federal (50 percent) and local funders Counties Transit Improvement Board (30 percent), Hennepin County Regional Railroad Authority (10 percent) and the state of Minnesota (10 percent).

Two panels separately evaluated the firms based on the criteria in the Request for Proposal, deeming them most advantageous amongst all proposers. The panels included representation from the Metropolitan Council, Minnesota Department of Transportation and Hennepin County. Advisers representing cities along the route and Three Rivers Park District provided technical input. 

About the project: The Southwest Light Rail Transit (LRT) project will operate from downtown Minneapolis through the southwestern suburban cities of St. Louis Park, Hopkins, Minnetonka, and Eden Prairie, passing in close proximity to the City of Edina.  The proposed alignment is primarily at-grade and includes 17 new stations and approximately 15.8-miles of double track.   The line will connect major activity centers in the region including downtown Minneapolis, the Opus/Golden Triangle employment area in Minnetonka and Eden Prairie, Methodist Hospital in St. Louis Park, the Eden Prairie Center Mall, and the Minneapolis Chain of Lakes. Ridership in 2030 is projected at 29,660 weekday passengers.  The project will interline with Central Corridor LRT which will provide a one-seat ride to destinations such as the University of Minnesota, state Capitol and downtown St. Paul.  It will be part of an integrated system of transitways, including connections to the Hiawatha LRT line, the Northstar Commuter Rail line, a variety of major bus routes along the alignment, and proposed future transitway and rail lines.  The Metropolitan Council will be the grantee of federal funds. The regional government agency is charged with building the line in partnership with the Minnesota Department of Transportation. The Southwest Corridor Management Committee, which includes commissioners from Hennepin County and the mayors of Minneapolis, St. Louis Park, Edina, Hopkins, Minnetonka, and Eden Prairie provides advice and oversight. Funding is provided by the Federal Transit Administration, Counties Transit Improvement Board (CTIB), state of Minnesota and Hennepin County Regional Railroad Authority (HCRRA). 

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