The Metropolitan Council approved a recommendation September 20 to reject all four civil construction bids for the Southwest LRT project, due to price and responsiveness. The bids were opened in August; they represent the bulk of the construction work involved in building the tracks, road, bridges, trails, tunnels, stations, and other facilities needed for the light rail line.
The Council also voted to direct project staff to look at ways to reduce costs and prepare to reissue the invitation for civil construction bids in October.
“We must look closely at ways to modify the specifications for these bids in a way that will reduce project costs where possible,” said Chair Alene Tchourumoff. “Working together with Hennepin County, I think we can bring innovative cost-reduction strategies to the table and ultimately find efficiencies in this procurement. We’re going to be sharpening our pencils, and we encourage the contractors to do the same.”
The Council discussed the recommendation at a September 13 Council meeting, with final discussion and a vote at a special September 20 Council meeting.
The determination that the bids were too high was made in close consultation with Hennepin County as the primary local funder of the project. There were also responsiveness issues, which means a bid did not meet all the requirements of the bid documents.
Project retains strong support from host cities and business community
“We are working hard to identify modifications that can be made without compromising the project,” said Hennepin County Board Chair Jan Callison. “The Green Line Extension project has benefitted from the strong support of the host cities and the business communities who recognize the benefits this project will bring to the mobility and economy of the region.”
Staff will begin working on possible modifications, with a plan to reissue the procurement in October. The bids are scheduled to be opened in December and awarded in March 2018. This delays the project by four months, moving the opening of the line to 2022.
This would also delay the application for and receipt of the Full Funding Grant Agreement (FFGA) from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA). The federal share of the $1.858 billion project is $929 million. The project remains highly competitive for federal funding with a medium-high rating under federal scoring criteria. In August, 73 state lawmakers signed a letter to Transportation Secretary Chao, detailing their support for continued transit funding and the importance of the Southwest LRT project to the region.
“While certainly this is a setback in our schedule, it doesn’t change the importance or strength of this project,” said Tchourumoff. “This is a critical infrastructure project for our Twin Cities region and state, connecting people of all incomes with jobs across the region. The future vitality of our region depends on the build-out of a robust transit system. We are fully committed to building Southwest Light Rail and are grateful to the communities, businesses, and others who have invested time, energy and resources in this project and eagerly anticipate its completion.
Bids received and opened August 15, 2017
Ames Kraemer: $796,517,023
Lunda McCrossan: $807,888,309
Southwest Rail Constructors: $1,068,703,540
Southwest Transit Constructors: $1,080,081,811
Once completed, the 14.5-mile transit line will connect people with nearly a quarter million jobs accessible along the line in Minneapolis, St. Louis Park, Hopkins, Minnetonka, and Eden Prairie. Businesses large and small and the State and local Chambers of Commerce have expressed support for the line, citing the growing region and need to attract and retain talent. The construction of the line will create 7,500 jobs, pumping $350 million in payroll back to communities across the state.