Light rail, heavy costs

County Chairman Mel Martinez's transportation commission told county officials this week that the transit authority has underestimated the cost of the proposed light rail by $85 million, most of that in land-acquisition costs. Committee chairman Bill Frederick said the new number could change before the final report next week, but if the estimate holds, the price for the 15-mile project will increase to $685 million.

Light rail is a continuing controversy, with opponents claiming it will not attract enough riders and will cost too much. The county commission is under pressure to decide whether to move forward, because most of the cost would be born by federal taxpayers if the decision is made soon.

Lynx executive director Leo Auger says his $132 million land budget is more accurate than Frederick's $200 million figure, and he promises to cut costs further in the coming months.


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