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Two finalists emerge for Orange Line design services

Brian Johnson//August 26, 2015

Two finalists emerge for Orange Line design services

Brian Johnson//August 26, 2015

The Metropolitan Council put out a design solicitation earlier this summer for the project, which will provide expedited bus service on a 17-mile route along Interstate 35W from Burnsville to Minneapolis.

Two proposers — St. Paul-based SEH Corp. and HNTB Corp., which has a local office in Golden Valley — met the mid-August deadline to submit proposals for services ranging from pre-bid activities to construction management support.

If all goes as planned, a contract could be awarded in November, said Metro Transit spokesman Howie Padilla.

Charles Carlson, Metro Transit’s senior manager for bus rapid transit, said the contract award will be a big step in advancing the project’s technical readiness.

“It’s a fairly tight timeline in terms of the project overall,” Carlson said.

Scheduled for construction starting in 2017 and ending in 2019, the Orange Line will include stops at 11 stations in Minneapolis, Richfield, Bloomington and Burnsville.

Project backers are looking to the federal government for about half of the project’s cost, with the rest coming from state and local sources.

The Counties Transit Improvement Board — which includes representatives from Anoka, Dakota, Hennepin, Ramsey and Washington counties — is expected to contribute $45.2 million. The state is expected to cover 10 percent of the total cost.

In July, Hennepin County committed $12.8 million to the project.

Over the next year or so, the project team will continue to firm up commitments for all non-federal funds, Carlson said. The goal is to get all those commitments lined up by next August, when an application will be submitted for federal funds.

According to the 108-page request for proposals for Orange Line architectural and engineering services, the Orange Line will serve 10 at-grade stations and a single elevated station at Lake Street in Minneapolis.

The transit line will be primarily in the existing footprint, though about 900 feet of new right of way is necessary to establish a transit-only “guideway” along the alignment of Knox Avenue between the American Boulevard station and Interstate 494 in Bloomington, according to the RFP.

The Orange Line ties in with the $150 million I-35W Transit/Access project, which is also scheduled to start in 2017. The access project includes the Lake Street Orange Line BRT station, bridge reconstruction and other improvements.

The I-35W project is scheduled for letting on June 7, 2017, said Nick Carpenter, spokesman for the Minnesota Department of Transportation.

Hennepin County, the city of Minneapolis, Metro Transit and MnDOT are taking the lead on the I-35W access project.

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