St. Louis Park, January 14, 2021
- Today the Metropolitan Council along with Hennepin County are announcing a potential construction delay for the Southwest LRT Project. Over the course of the 2020 construction season, the project staff and our contractor, Lunda-McCrossan Joint Venture encountered unforeseen conditions in the Minneapolis segment of the of the alignment which will take longer to overcome. These include:
- Due to the poor soils we encountered in the Kenilworth corridor during the initial construction of the tunnel, an alternative construction method is needed to complete the tunnel. The construction method we are introducing (secant wall) will stabilize the soils while constructing the LRT tunnel. We are taking this approach out of an abundance of caution to protect the foundations of adjacent buildings.
- We are constructing an approximately 1-mile corridor protection wall for an additional layer of protection between the BNSF freight trains and LRT trains. The corridor protection wall will be located in the BNSF’s Wayzata Subdivision in Minneapolis from the Bryn Mawr Station to just east of I-94. This protection wall was added as a requirement of BNSF after final design and civil construction contracting. While this element is not a surprise, we have now completed analysis and design for the wall and have a fuller understanding of the challenges of constructing this project element in an active freight rail corridor. Watch this short video about the corridor protection wall.
These are no small changes and require thoughtful and deliberate engineering, design plans and construction methods. What this means is Southwest LRT will most likely not be meeting it’s opening day projection of 2023. While these types of setbacks are not uncommon on projects of this scale, we are also disappointed by this development. We strongly believe the long-term benefits of this project to the region and state outweigh the short-term challenges we face.
During the next several months project staff and the contractor will be analyzing the schedule and we will share more information later this year. Southwest LRT is the largest public infrastructure project in the state of Minnesota's history and is incredibly complex as we construct LRT, freight rail and regional trails. Challenges will always arise in a project of this size and scope. It is important to note that current construction on Southwest LRT continues in Eden Prairie, Minnetonka, Hopkins, St. Louis Park and Minneapolis. This includes key project elements including stations, LRT and trail tunnels and LRT, freight rail and trail bridges which will continue to be constructed. We will continue to work directly with stakeholders to minimize these construction impacts whenever possible.
Additionally, the Metropolitan Council remains committed to ensuring the many small businesses and sub-contractors working on the project are treated fairly due to the anticipate schedule change.