HANSKA, MN—Representative Paul Torkelson, R-Hanska, Chair of the House Transportation Committee, issued the following statement regarding today's announcement from the Metropolitan Council that the Invitation for Bids (IFB) due date will be delayed from January 9, 2018 until May 3, 2018. The delay comes in part as a result of concerns raised by contractors previously banned from working on the engineering phase of the project. The bid process was reopened after the first round yielded zero bids that fit within the SWLRT project's projected budget. The Met Council also cited the need for additional environmental review, and concerns about the proposed protection wall separating the SWLRT tracks from existing freight rail lines.
"I'm encouraged that additional steps are being taken to ensure Minnesota contractors can be included in the engineering phase and remain in the running for other future federal contracts," Torkelson said. "However, today's announcement is yet another reminder of how profoundly expensive and chaotic the Southwest Light Rail process has been. Every month that goes by means significant additional costs to Minnesota taxpayers—I think it's time for an honest conversation about whether it's prudent to keep sinking tax dollars into a project whose federal funding remains uncertain at best. The Met Council is facing a projected budget deficit, and every option—including halting operations on SWLRT—should be on the table."