- The Minneapolis Metropolitan Council has given the go-ahead for a $1.5 billion, 13-mile light-rail extension line, leading the way for county and other municipalities' approval, which, according to state law, must be secured by March 4. The new line will connect downtown Minneapolis to the northern suburbs, according to the Star Tribune.
- The council plans to build the new system along existing roads and tracks so they do not have to accumulate as much private property. However, the infrastructure necessary to keep traffic running smoothly — at least 13 road and rail bridges and one pedestrian bridge — along those roads and tracks during construction have increased costs.
- The rail line’s estimated costs have increased by nearly 50% since planning for the project began, and the council still must lock in a source of funding, the Star Tribune reported. The Federal Transit Administration is on track to pay 49%, and the Counties Transit Improvement Board will pay 31%. Hennepin County and the state are to split the 20% balance.
Dan Soler, the project's director, told the council at the last meeting that, as the engineering is completed, the $1.5 billion estimated cost could change. "There is just 15 percent engineering done and a lot of unknowns. The hope is it won't change significantly," Soler said.
Unanticipated cost increases are not just the problem of the Minneapolis Metropolitan Council. The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority just last week cleaned house of consultants and contractors after cost overruns of $1 billion on its Green Line extension project.
And in California, there is mounting expert consensus that the schedule and cost estimates that the California High-Speed Rail Authority set for completion of its $68 billion Los Angeles-San Francisco bullet train project is unrealistic and cannot be achieved.
A report obtained by the Los Angeles Times found the total cost of the project is now at $40 billion — $9 billion more than the authority’s official estimate of $31 billion. California Assemblyman Jim Patterson, along with other Republican legislators, called for an investigation into the California High-Speed Rail Authority after the report was released.