USA: The Twin Cities Metropolitan Council awarded the civil works contract for the Southwest LRT light rail line on November 15 to a joint venture of Lunda and C.S. McCrossan. Bids were invited last year, and the joint venture beat one other bidder with its offer of $799·5m.

The 23·3 km route between Minneapolis and Eden Prairie serves 16 stops. It will parallel existing freight railway tracks for 12·6 km and include two cut-and-cover tunnels.

A ceremonial groundbreaking is expected to take place this month, with preliminary work due to start before the end of the year. Main works are due to begin next year and run to 2022, ahead of opening in 2023.

Work will include the construction of six pedestrian tunnels and 29 bridges; a further seven existing bridges are to be modified.

Award of the contract follows approval by the Federal Transit Administration for the start of construction. The FTA issued a Letter of No Prejudice on November 14. Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton emphasised that ‘the Southwest Light Rail is a critical economic development project for the people of Minnesota’.

The Met Council expects to submit its application for a Full Funding Grant Agreement from the FTA. The $929m package would cover nearly half of the total project cost.