The Council was expected to pick a winning bid this fall after delaying the bid opening three times to address technical questions. The likely rejection of the current bids is just the latest hurdle for the project, however, and it won’t be the last.
Last spring, Minnesota state legislators voted down a measure that would have provided the cash required to get nearly $1 billion in matching funds from the Federal Transit Administration. Republican lawmakers even asked the federal agency to send those funds to other state infrastructure projects. The FTA didn’t bite. The Council prevailed by soliciting area counties to supply the money instead.
Adding to its financial challenges, the LRT project also faces delay-driven cost increases. A report last August put costs up $18 million from initial projections, with the potential for increases of $1 million per week due to expenses related to hiring outside consultants and designers.