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Criticized bridge from light rail to new Vikings stadium goes up in price

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A pedestrian bridge linking the new Vikings stadium with a light rail platform is $2.65 million more expensive than expected, and both the team and a Metropolitan Council committee have a new agreement to pay for it.

Under the new terms outlined in a Met Council Transportation Committee agenda, the bridge – which proponents say would help the stadium-going crowds navigate the busy area near the intersection of South Fourth Street and Chicago Avenue – will cost $9.65 million.

The Metropolitan Council will pay for $4 million – the Vikings will pay up to $6 million of it, and also get 90 percent of ad revenue at the light rail station for 30 years, or until their contribution is paid back, the document says.

The Metropolitan Council Transportation Committee approved the new deal Monday night, the Star Tribune reports, with a final vote from the full council scheduled for early next month.

How does this compare to the previous talks?

Early this year it was a $6 million plan, and that quickly became a target of criticism.

Then in July, the price went up to $7 million, with the Met Council and Vikings each agreeing to pay half. The team would have gotten 50 percent of all ad revenue at that light rail station for 30 years as part of the deal.

So under the new deal: The Met Council will pay $500,000 more upfront, the Vikings will pay as much as $2.5 million more upfront. But the ad revenue won't be a 50/50 split anymore, and will instead lean heavily toward the Vikings until that $6 million or so is repaid.

The document posted on the Met Council Transportation Committee's Nov. 9 agenda explains bridge plans were finalized and construction bids issued over the summer. They received two bids on Oct. 14, both of them "considerably higher" than the expected $7 million price tag.

The reason for the uptick, Metro Transit thinks, includes labor shortages, the availability of subcontractors, "limited site control," and more.

Metro Transit officials have said the bridge is necessary for safety reasons. Some critics question the cost, while others said it’s the Vikings, rather than taxpayers, who should pay for the bridge – including Met Council member Jennifer Munt, Finance and Commerce reported.

U.S. Bank Stadium is expected to be open in time for the Vikings' 2016 regular season.

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