Light savers

Construction costs for Twin Cities rail lines.  It seems like I look this stuff up every couple months so I thought I’d write it down to save my future self the trouble.  For distances I used km to make myself look more professional; to get the miles still used in jolly old USA just divide by 1.6, um, or multiply by 1.6, I forget which.

All dollars are current unless noted parenthetically.

Hiawatha -$44.5m/km

Capital cost: $715.3m (2004)

Length: 19.3 km

Stations: 17

Target Field Hiawatha Extension –  $100m/km

Capital cost: $52m (2009 – This project was part of the Northstar’s $317m budget – Transport Politic lists the cost of just the commuter rail line as $265m, which I’ve verified but I can’t remember where.)

Length: .55 km (This is my measurement.  In addition, this project built a .45 km tail track that may be used for the Southwest line, depending on how it’s built.  I don’t think it’s fair to include the tail track in the cost per km because tailings were not included in the other lines.)

Stations: 1

Hiawatha LRT Tunnel – $62m/km

Capital cost: $120m (2004)

Length: 2.2 km

Stations: 1

Central – $53.2m/km (edit: don’t trust this number) 

Mulad pointed out in the comments that the entire corridor is 18 km – not sure how long just the new track is.  Let me know if you know, please!

Capital cost: $957m

Length: 18 km

Stations: 18 new

Southwest – $46m/km

(current dollars calculated using a 3.5% annual inflation rate following LPA Tech Memo #7A)

Capital cost: $1.25b (2015) ($1111040615 in 2011 dollars)

Length: 24.1 km

Stations: 17

Fun with numbers

Central subway – $60m/km

An all-subway Central LRT, assuming the tunneling costs from Hiawatha.  Of course, the 2.2 km Hiawatha tunnel has only one station, so if Central could have only 9 stations, where would you put them?

Capital cost: $1.1b

Stations: 9

Southwest with Uptown subway -$57.6m/km

To calculate the cost of a Southwest LRT line that proceeds from the West Lake station east on the Greenway at grade, then up Hennepin below grade, emerging again at the Cedar Lake Trail near Glenwood and going up Royalston, basically I just add the cost of the tunnel under Hennepin, assuming the same tunneling costs as Hiawatha, to the total cost of Southwest.  Pretty rough, I know.

Capital cost: $1.32b

Length: 22.9 km

Stations: 16 (This would assume an at-grade station at Uptown, then a below-grade station at Franklin.  There should probably be at least one more station in a subway below Hennepin, which would of course add to the per km cost.)

For comparison’s sake

I-394 – $45m/km

Capital cost: $450m (1993)

Length: 15.7 km

Crosstown Commons – $36.5m/km

Capital cost: $288m (2010)

Length: 7.9 km

For more incomparable comparisons, check Alon Levy’s list.


11 comments on “Light savers

  1. Destin says:

    Looking at the Hiawatha numbers, I assume that the $715.3m number includes the rail cars and the maintenance station, whereas the $110 million for the Airport tunnel is only for the tunnel and station. Is that true? If so, it is sort of misleading and suggests that tunneling is relatively cheaper than it really is.

    • Destin says:

      I suspect that part of the purpose of working these numbers was to get a relative cost for surface level vs. tunneled LRT. If that’s really the point, it would be nice to see the tunnel costs (and perhaps some other non-trackage and station costs) backed out of the $715.3 so that we could see a real apple to apples comparison.

      Also, you need to check your math on 394.

      But thanks for pulling these numbers together. They raise some interesting questions.

      • Alex says:

        Thanks for catching the 394 issue. The math is actually correct, I just forgot to note that the total cost is in 1993 dollars – I’ll edit that.

        You have a point about comparing costs that include rolling stock to costs that don’t. Unfortunately it’s pretty hard to find a breakdown of costs for Hiawatha. On Southwest rolling stock is 9.5% of the total budget, and I suppose that could just be shaved off the total for Hiawatha for an estimate. We’ll see if I get around to doing that.

  2. Zach says:

    Also, tunneling through an airport (single property owner little disruption) vs tunneling through Hennepin would likely have a much, much greater cost necessary to offset business, utility and neighborhood disruption. Not to mention any land acquisition costs for stations along Hennepin.

    • Alex says:

      Not sure how much disruption would occur with deep bore tunneling under a roadway. My assumption is that the portals would both be in bike trail areas, so there would probably have to be detours for those. One advantage of Hennepin is that it has lots of little triangles of right-of-way that could be used for most of the station access and ventilation.

      • Froggie says:

        (sorry for the late entry) Depends how deep you’re going. But given the topography, you’d have to go cut-and-cover at least partially at the Greenway (and likely up to 28th) and again from about Dunwoody north. A further complicating factor is the lake at Loring Park. Also, with a deep bore tunnel, your station at Franklin would be a lot more expensive.

        • Alex says:

          There is one station included in the Hiawatha deep bore tunneling cost. But I just threw it on here as a lark – Hennepin runs through different bedrock and there is much more glacial till there.

  3. mulad says:

    Hmm. I think you got sucked into believing the Central Corridor is 11 miles long, when the new construction is actually closer to 9 (probably 14 or 15 km). The Wikipedia page should probably be changed…

  4. […] Best of all for a Northside route, the portals would both lie in a sandstone layer.  Based on Hiawatha’s tunneling costs, the 5 km required for a Northside LRT subway would cost $300m, about a third of the projected […]

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