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Star Tribune (Minneapolis, MN)
The cost of building a pedestrian bridge linking the $1.1 billion U.S. Bank Stadium to a nearby light-rail platform is about $1 million more than expected.
For now, the Metropolitan Council will pick up the bill, although the regional planning body is trying to recover $465,462 from a consultant that it says made costly errors in the bridge's design. That would account for about half the increased costs for the bridge.
The Vikings have already chipped in $6 million toward the bridge, and are not contractually obligated to pay anything more.
The Met Council's Transportation Committee on Monday approved a series of change orders, a bureaucratic move often required when a project goes over budget. The bridge was supposed to cost $9.65 million to construct, but ended up with about a $10.6 million price tag.
The bridge is intended to ferry stadium patrons and others safely across the LRT tracks at the U.S. Bank Stadium Station, which serves as a nexus for the Green and Blue lines.
"We're pleased with the bridge," said Metro Transit spokesman Howie Padilla. "It's fulfilled its purpose by keeping everyone safer." Light-rail traffic during Vikings games, concerts and other events at the stadium is about 25 percent higher than normal, he added.
The design consultant cited by the Met Council for a portion of the cost increase, Eden Prairie-based EVS Inc., said in a statement Tuesday that it is proud of the work it did in connection with the pedestrian bridge and the stadium.
"After nearly four decades, we know that cost disagreements like this occasionally arise and are addressed through a well-established process," said EVS President K. Dennis Kim. "We'll work with Metro Transit and the other design team members to reach a solution acceptable to all and that respects the public's interests."
The bridge project encountered problems from the very beginning.
Vikings chip in
When the bridge was first contemplated two years ago, the Vikings were not expected to contribute any money to the project. After the Met Council pushed back, an agreement was reached with the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority that called for the team to contribute up to $3.5 million in exchange for half of U.S. Bank Stadium Station's advertising revenue.
But when bids were advertised in the fall of 2014, they came in higher than expected, due to labor and subcontractor shortages and a tight timeline for construction.
A new agreement was subsequently struck, with the Met Council paying $4 million and the team contributing up to $6 million. The team gets 90 percent of the advertising revenue from U.S. Bank Stadium Station to help repay its initial contribution for a 30-year period, or until the $6 million is repaid.
At the time the deal was inked, annual advertising revenue from the station was estimated to be $310,000, with the Met Council receiving 10 percent.
Lead project manager Jim Harwood told Met Council members Monday that "design errors" were discovered during construction, many of which were related to the bridge's elevator.
On Monday, Council Member Jennifer Munt said she was concerned about investing in a bridge serving patrons for "eight Vikings games a year" while many bus stops in the metro area lack appropriate shelter. She was assured that the cost overrun would not affect a current program to improve bus shelters.
With an annual operating budget of $936 million, the Met Council is funded through user fees, state, federal and local government funds, a metro-area property tax and other sources.
Janet Moore · 612-673-7752
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