Senate DFLers in the Transportation Finance Committee supported a bill this week requiring the Office of the Legislative Auditor (OLA) to review the cost overruns and scheduling delays of the $2.7 billion Southwest Light Rail Transit project. The light rail project consists of a 14.5-mile rail line traveling from Minneapolis to Eden Prairie. Recently, the Met Council announced the completion of the project will be delayed another four years until 2027 and cost an additional $450-550 million.
Due to these developments, a bipartisan coalition of legislators is committed to uncovering the primary reasons behind the delay and cost overruns, whether the Met Council properly managed the project, and whether there was sufficient scrutiny of route decisions and design choices that required costly changes. The legislation provides the OLA with the resources ($200,000) to hire staff and potentially enter into contracts with third parties to investigate the issues that have plagued this project.
The auditing authority and corresponding appropriation provided through this legislation will allow the OLA to delve more thoroughly into the reasons behind the cost overruns and scheduling delays of this important transit project. (SF 2676)