Typo Underestimates Light Rail Project by $100M

Updated: 11/28/2012 10:24 AM KSTP.com By: Jay Kolls

It is a $100 million typo that could have given the Southwest Light Rail project a major headache. The SWLR project is expected to cost a little over a billion dollars with a fifteen mile stretch of tracks from downtown Minneapolis out to Eden Prairie. But, an engineering firm made a big blunder in one of its estimates.

HDR Engineering underestimated the cost of one of the construction options by $100 million. But, Hennepin County officials say they caught the mistake in time and kept it from being a possible setback.

HDR dropped the number one from the estimated overall construction costs. The document should have read 1-billion 171-million dollars. Instead, it read 1-billion, 71-million dollars. The mistake was part of a draft environmental impact study for the SWLR project. Hennepin County Commissioner Peter McGlaughlin tells 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS that is "pretty unbelievable" that a mistake of such magnitude could come with a projected budget number that is so important to the entire project.  McGlaughlin says, if the mistake had not been corrected, that it would have cost more to do the project, if that option had been chosen.

We contacted HDR Engineering and asked them for an interview. They declined and told us they would send a written statement. We have not yet received that statement. Commissioner McGlaughlin told us he was not happy with the mistake but is glad it was found and corrected, saying "this is how this process is supposed to work."