Loop Trolley project poised to move forward despite high bids

 Although bids for part of the $43 million Loop Trolley rail line project have come in over budget, organizers say the plan is poised to move forward.

University City developer Joe Edwards, who chairs the Loop Trolley Transportation Development District, said the rail line should be operational by 2016, even though initial bids came in about $11 million beyond the budget.

“A few items came in way over,” said Edwards, who also owns Blueberry Hill in University City. “So the bids were canceled and put out for rebid.”

The 2.2-mile vintage trolley line would run from Delmar Boulevard’s loop in University City to DeBaliviere Avenue in St. Louis and end at the Missouri History Museum in Forest Park. (The Loop is actually named for the trolleys that used to turn around there decades ago.)

The line would be funded by a 1 percent sales tax in the district, as well as private money and more than $20 million in federal grant money. The project has been filled with ups and downs and delays since it was first conceived in the late 1990s.

In 2013, delays almost cost the project more than $22 million in federal funding, but that has since been worked out.

Edwards said companies had until the end of November to submit fresh bids on the project. If there is still a significant overage, he said the project would be forced to seek more capital. He projected, however, that things would come into line with consultant expectations.

“This is common in a transportation project like this,” Edwards said. “I think we will see a dramatic change in the bids and close to being right where we need them to be.”

The high bids involved electrical and track work.

Utility work along the track route has already begun.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch ©November 2014

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