Commissioner Dorfman: Southwest LRT routes about cost

Today Hennepin County Commissioners received analysis from HDR showing the projected ridership and costs of the two potential alignments for the Southwest LRT.  3A would cost $1.2 billion while 3C would cost $1.8 billion.  Hennepin County Commissioner Gail Dorfman, who chairs the Policy Advisory committee, implied that 3A was the better choice.

“Dorfman says the projected cost of the line ranges from $1.2 billion to $1.8 billion, depending on the final route. Those numbers put the proposal give the project a Cost Effectiveness Index of $30 per rider for the length of the line, just outside the range required by the Federal Transit Administration for federal funding.

In order to move into the next step which would be to begin preliminary engineering you have to reach that $29 CEI number, so we’re very close to that,” she said.

Dorfman says the new numbers show the less costly option is to build the line along the Kenilworth trail near Cedar Lake and Lake of the Isles in Minneapolis.

Neither the MPR nor Star Tribune coverage of the meeting makes clear the difference in ridership between the two alignments.

11 thoughts on “Commissioner Dorfman: Southwest LRT routes about cost

  1. Ridership for the two alternatives is not significantly different.

    The question of, “who will this serve?” is the key one. But 3A is not simply a suburban commuter route. You are forgetting all of the people who live in North Minneapolis. That is a highly transit-dependent population living in economically distressed neighborhoods with limited job accessibility. Are they not part of Minneapolis?

    Right now there is no transit link from there out to the jobs in the SW suburbs. Yet the Royalston station today serves as many buses as the Uptown station. That’s a whole lot of people ready and able to ride out to the SW suburbs to get to the jobs.

    The 3A alignment provides this vital link and is critical for the future viability of Minneapolis. We cannot continue to keep entire neighborhoods cut off from opportunity. Not only is it unjust, it’s not sustainable from a city health perspective. What city can survive with a significant portion of its residents unemployed?

    And it’s more cost-effective to boot. Win-win all around.

  2. Google is quick… this is the #1 result when I searched right now for “minneapolis southwest lrt routes”. I actually just wanted the maps of the routes so technically my search wasn’t the best and this wasn’t where I wanted to end up, but I thought you’d like to know that Google is noticing you. 🙂

  3. David: job accessibility is important. However I assume that existing bus routes near the light rail will be re-routed to serve as feeders, the same way they were for Hiawatha. Regardless of whether 3A or 3C is chosen, those individuals coming through Royalston will very likely be able to access the new LRT easily.

    And if you want to give them access to jobs, the route to choose is 3C. As you can see on this map, the access to jobs would be greater along 3C, and the access to the SW suburbs is the same.

    Finally, I would ask what your source is on how many buses Royalston serves, and how full are they? According to publicly available data, all the bus stops within 1/4 mile of the planned Royalston Station see about 1,100 weekday trips, while those within 1/4 mile of the planned Uptown Station see about 3,700. That’s over three times as many.

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  5. Possibly a stupid question, but if it costs $600 million more to build the route through Uptown and the ridership is the same, why are we even debating this…..last time I checked this state was in a financial crisis, so where are we going to get an extra $600 million to serve the same number of people. And even if there were more people riding the train in Uptown, how many more would we need to justify and extra $600 million. Even if it was another 10,000 people, which is ridiculous, that equates to an extra $60,000 per person. How in the world can anyone ever justify that? To be this seems to be a debate generated by the rich people in Kenwood who think they can throw their political muscle around. If they pervail me and my children will be paying for this for years. I say if they want it to go through Uptown rather than Kenwood they can pay the difference – put their money where their mouths are!

    • Thanks for your comments Theresa. Would you mind disclosing whether you work for Hennepin County? I received two comments within minutes of each other from the same IP address that belongs to the County. Perhaps you’re commenting from the library, but if you are a County employee, perhaps you have a unique perspective on the project.

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