Central Corridor Businesses Get More Financial Aid

The Met Council announced that an additional $3.3 million will be made available to St. Paul businesses hindered by the Central Corridor light-rail construction; that's in addition to the $7.8 million that was initially available.

The Metropolitan Council announced Wednesday that businesses struggling due to the construction of the Central Corridor light-rail line in St. Paul will receive an additional $3.3 million in financial aid.

The 800-plus businesses on University Avenue can now collectively receive $11.1 million from the council, the cities of St. Paul and Minneapolis, and other private organizations. This includes about $5.6 million in forgivable loans and $650,000 in grants.

Area business owners have long complained that customers are being driven away due to the loss of parking spots and limited access to businesses.

A federal judge in January ruled that light-rail planners had failed to analyze how construction of the 11-mile transit line would affect businesses in the corridor and ordered the Met Council to conduct further assessment. The order came after a group of organizations, businesses, and residents from St. Paul filed lawsuits claiming that the project's impact was not adequately addressed.

“We've heard their voices. . . . We want to get the word out that businesses in the Central Corridor are open for business during construction,” Met Council Chair Susan Haigh said in a statement. “Even while the project itself is creating many hundreds of jobs and is great news for some businesses, other business owners are struggling due to issues of access and parking.”

The Central Corridor light-rail line is a $957 million project that will connect downtown Minneapolis and downtown St. Paul along University and Washington avenues. The project is expected to be complete in 2014.

The Metropolitan Council is a state-funded regional planning agency that serves the Twin Cities' seven-county metropolitan area. The council's mission is to work with local communities to develop a comprehensive regional planning framework that focuses on transportation, wastewater, parks, and aviation systems, and that guides local growth.

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