Chart of the Day: Bottineau Light Rail Cost Increases

Courtesy of Minnpost and the Met Council, here’s a pie chart showing the ballooning costs for the planned “Bottineau” LRT line going Northwest out of downtown Minneapolis. (It’s also known as the “blue line extension.”) A recent Met Council report raised the projected price tag from $1 to $1.5 billion, which is a lot.

Here’s the chart showing where the extra $500 million dollars is coming from:

BottineauCostDrivers chart

The Minnpost article explains it thus:

Some of the increase reflects construction challenges that were revealed by what project staff calls advanced engineering. For example, the wetlands next to BNSF tracks north of Olson Highway do not make for a solid foundation for a rail line, and the staff now proposes sinking pilings into the soft soils beneath the ponds and building a bridge on those pilings.

The route will also need eight light rail bridges instead of five. Plans also call for four park-and-rides rather than three; an overpass between a parking facility and the station at 63rd Avenue to make it safer to cross freight tracks; and the reconstructing of five roadway bridges instead of one.

And rather than a partial rebuild of Olson Highway to accommodate light rail tracks down the center, staff now thinks it will need a full reconstruction between I-94 and the BNSF right of way that runs between Golden Valley and Minneapolis.

But a few of the additions are political. Project staff had proposed a station at either Plymouth Avenue or Golden Valley Road. The cities want both, and both are in the budget. A park-and-ride facility at Golden Valley Road is also being discussed, though it’s not yet in the budget.

So while a lot of the added cost is due to unknowns discovered as the project advanced, some are add-ons to enhance service, safety and relations with the cities along the line.

Obviously, some writers here have already weighed in on this kind of engineering and financing relationship. Anyway, seeing the causes… does it make it better?

Bill Lindeke

About Bill Lindeke

Pronouns: he/him

Bill Lindeke has writing blogging about sidewalks and cities since 2005, ever since he read Jane Jacobs. He is a lecturer in Urban Studies at the University of Minnesota Geography Department, the Cityscape columnist at Minnpost, and has written multiple books on local urban history. He was born in Minneapolis, but has spent most of his time in St Paul. Check out Twitter @BillLindeke or on Facebook.