Friday, September 22, 2017

Met Council officially rejects SWLRT bids; looks for cost reduction options

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The Metropolitan Council (Met Council) approved a recommendation September 20 to reject all four civil construction bids for the Southwest LRT project, due to price and responsiveness concerns.

The move will delay the application for and receipt of the Full Funding Grant Agreement (FFGA) from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA). Additionally, the start of revenue service will be delayed until 2022.

The Met Council also voted to direct project staff to look at ways to reduce costs and prepare to reissue the invitation for civil construction bids in October.

"We must look closely at ways to modify the specifications for these bids in a way that will reduce project costs where possible," said Chair Alene Tchourumoff. "Working together with Hennepin County, I think we can bring innovative cost-reduction strategies to the table and ultimately find efficiencies in this procurement. We're going to be sharpening our pencils, and we encourage the contractors to do the same."

Met Council said Hennepin County, a primary local funder of the project, was closely consulted in the determination that the bids were too high, but also notes that the project retains strong support from community stakeholders.

"We are working hard to identify modifications that can be made without compromising the project," said Hennepin County Board Chair Jan Callison. "The Green Line Extension project has benefitted from the strong support of the host cities and the business communities who recognize the benefits this project will bring to the mobility and economy of the region."

Staff will begin working on possible modifications, with a plan to reissue the procurement in October. The bids are scheduled to be opened in December and awarded in March 2018.

"While certainly this is a setback in our schedule, it doesn't change the importance or strength of this project," said Tchourumoff. "This is a critical infrastructure project for our Twin Cities region and state, connecting people of all incomes with jobs across the region. We are fully committed to building Southwest Light Rail and...eagerly anticipate its completion."