Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Judge rejects latest quest to halt St. Paul LRT

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Judge rejects latest quest to halt St. Paul LRT Metropolitan Council

Construction of St. Paul, Minn.'s Central Corridor light rail line can continue, a federal judge has ruled, turning aside protests from the St. Paul NAACP and the city's Rondo neighborhood.

The effort to stop construction, the latest in a series of attempts by various parties, was described as an effort to force Metropolitan Council to expedite a study analyzing adverse business impact during the line's installation.

Judge Donovan Frank mandated the study two years ago, but in an updated ruling found planners to be offering available data in good faith, though not to the degree that had been hoped. Met Council and the Federal Transit Administration say a draft of the required study should be available by year's end, with public hearing sessions to follow.

Businesses involved in protesting the lack of data continue to claim a severe loss of revenue. Although Met Council has provided some fiscal compensation for some businesses, those entities claim the compensation remains inadequate at best.

For its part, Met Council representatives repeatedly have noted that heavy construction of the route, now also called the Green Line, will essentially be completed by the end of the year, reducing disruption considerably.

The 11-mile, $957 million line is slated to begin revenue operation in 2014, linking downtown St. Paul and downtown Minneapolis along Washington and University avenues via the state Capitol and the University of Minnesota. The line will connect with the existing Hiawatha LRT line at the Metrodome station in Minneapolis, offering connections as well to Northstar commuter rail service at Target Field Station, also in Minneapolis.

Previous objections to the line's construction were raised by Minnesota Public Radio (MPR) and the University of Minnesota.