Footnote to the Hiawatha light rail project

It’s a $4.6 million dollar footnote.

The news is that the U. S. Department of Justice will settle for $4.6 million with the major contractors who built the Hiawatha line.

The settlement for the project completed in 2004 resolves allegations that a consortium of construction design and build firms that includes Granite Construction Company and C. S. McCrossan knowingly submitted false claims.

The companies claimed they’d subcontracted with women and minority owned or so-called disadvantaged business enterprises (DBE’s) when the government says they hadn’t.

The companies agree to the settlement but insist they did nothing wrong.

Federal rules require that contractors make a good faith effort to subcontract with DBE’s.

What about the Central Corridor light rail project under construction between downtown St. Paul to downtown Minneapolis through the east bank campus of the University of Minnesota?

Here’s the latest from spokeswoman Laura Baenen:

The DBE total achievement in July for the project was about 8 percent. The goal is 15 percent. The reason for the below-goal performance is that the work activities planned for DBE firms has not occurred as yet. Keep in mind that the 15 percent goal is upon completion of the contracts, and the contractors still have years of work ahead of them.

Baenen adds a footnote: “The (CCLRT) project is still on budget. As for time, we have already surpassed our 2011 goal of being 20 percent complete; we did this in July.”

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