U of M, Met Council Settle Light-Rail Lawsuit

The agreement, reached Wednesday, calls for a plan to protect university research facilities from vibration and electromagnetic interference related to the Central Corridor light-rail transit project.

The University of Minnesota and the Metropolitan Council on Wednesday reached a final agreement to settle a university-filed lawsuit related to concerns about the Central Corridor light-rail transit project.

The agreement comes five months after the two parties entered into an interim agreement that allowed construction on the project to proceed over the summer.

Under Wednesday's agreement-which is pending approval from the full Met Council and the University Board of Regents-the university will grant the temporary and permanent easements required for the project and drop the lawsuit, which it filed in September 2009. The lawsuit alleged that the council hadn't adequately addressed the “serious adverse environmental effects” that the light-rail line would have on the school.

Under the agreement, floating slabs will be installed under the tracks at various locations along Washington Avenue, between Pleasant and Harvard streets, to absorb train-caused ground-borne vibration that might adversely affect the university's research labs.

A Dual-split power supply will also be installed under tracks along Washington Avenue, between the east end of the Washington Avenue bridge and Ontario Street, to cancel out train-caused electromagnetic interference.

“It has been a long and difficult process for everyone involved,” Met Council Chair Peter Bell said in a statement. “However, the final product is an agreement that will protect sensitive university research facilities, while keeping the Central Corridor project on time and within budget. It also will maintain the council's autonomy in the operation of this important new transit line.”

The university is one of several entities that have filed suits against the Central Corridor project. In addition to the university, Minnesota Public Radio in St. Paul and a group of organizations, businesses, and residents from St. Paul have filed suits against the project's planners, neither of which has been settled yet.

The 11-mile Central Corridor light-rail line is a $957 million project that will connect downtown Minneapolis and downtown St. Paul along University and Washington avenues. It will include 16 new light-rail stations and share five existing stations with the Hiawatha line in Minneapolis. It is scheduled to be completed in 2014.

-Melissa Loth