ST. PAUL (AP) -- Just weeks before Minnesota hopes to get federal approval to begin the final design of a light-rail line in the Twin Cities, new conflict-of-interest concerns have surfaced with a second consultant.
The Federal Transit Administration has concerns over whether BRW Inc., which was given a $6.7 million contract for initial work on the line's stations, may have used its inside knowledge to win a second, related contract.
The FTA's questions mirrored last week's warnings involving consultant and project manager Parsons Brinckerhoff Quade & Douglas that state officials are permitting private consultants to use knowledge gleaned in initial contracts to help win subsequent contracts.
Federal transit officials said they also fear the Metropolitan Council doesn't have the expertise to oversee the $548 million project.
And the FTA has questioned whether the project contains enough money to move private utilities out of its way in downtown Minneapolis -- should it be forced by state law to do so, as House Republicans have proposed.
Documents released Wednesday outline the hurdles that state officials must still clear to satisfy the FTA. By Minnesota law, the final design must be under way by May 1 or state funding for the project will be revoked.
The federal concerns were detailed in correspondence between the Met Council and the FTA that was released at the request of state legislators.
Met Council Chairman Ted Mondale said that the council has responded to all of the FTA's concerns in the past few days and that it is waiting to find out if the agency is satisfied.
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