Two Billion Ways To Die

In three years, the price estimate for the Southwest LRT, from downtown Minneapolis to Eden Prairie, has jumped from 1.5-ish billion to, as of yesterday, two billion dollars.   And in a move that smacks of “giving the DFL political cover” (or, if you feel really cynical, responding to the NIMBY responses of his Kenwood neighbors), Governor Dayton has started what looks like walking the project back:

Dayton said in a statement released Monday that the rising costs to design and build the Southwest light rail “raises serious questions about the viability and affordability,” of the project.

Dayton called on the Metropolitan Council, which he appointed, to review other options for providing public transit to the region.

In the news conference Monday, Dayton said the project will not get additional money until costs are under control.

Prediction:  Governor Dayton and the DFL are going to use any potential cancellation as proof of their “fiscal responsibility”, as well as to inoculate the Met Council from further criticism.

8 thoughts on “Two Billion Ways To Die

  1. Two billion bucks to fund a rail line that might carry a quarter the people that 212 does, and new 212 only cost $240 million. As is usual with light rail, the ROI is 1/32 what it is for roads.

  2. Since these are government projects, the cost to build is greatly inflated. For example, when the Hiawatha line was built, they hired full time person whose only job was to count the skin hues and genders of employees and contractors. Make sure the numbers matched gov’t randomn mandates. Then they paid higher rates to contractors to get these prescribed results. Then there was fraud in the Central Corridor related to skin hue quotas.
    And other things due to being a gov’t project. I wonder if they could shave a huge chunk of the cost off if they just hired a private company to construct it, with no stupid wasteful useless gov’t mandates.

  3. I read comments by SWLRT proponents on FB last night repeatedly echoing that the extra $314 million that got tacked on was because of cleanup efforts necessary for previously polluted ground, not because of delays due to government involvement.

    Whatever. Blah blah blah. If they’d spend $2B on increasing lane mileage, the economy of the Twin Cities would see a huge bump within a couple years.

  4. Usually they don’t admit they grossly underestimated the cost until the dirt if flying. What went wrong this time?

  5. Good point, dmanfred. So either something is happening where the Met Council is being uncharacteristically honest, or they screwed up royally.

    Hey, if it kills light rail in SW, I don’t begrudge that met council guy a penny of his pay. He may have saved us billions. Hopefully this trend continues.

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