Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Minnesota Public Radio reaches accord on St. Paul LRT

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For months Minnesota Public Radio has protested the routing of St. Paul’s Central Corridor light rail transit line, expressing concerns about vehicle vibrations and other impacts potentially affecting its broadcasting capability. But MPR and the Metropolitan Council Wednesday announced an agreement to pursue mitigation efforts to address any impact on MPR Broadcast Center in the Minnesota state capital.

In a joint statement, Metropolitan Council Chairman Peter Bell and MPR President Bill Kling said the agreement “protects the integrity ofthe MPR Broadcast Center–a  tremendous asset to our city, our community and our state–and moves the Central Corridor light rail project forward–a project that will be aneconomic and environmental boon for all of us. It wasn’t an easy agreement–both sides had serious,legitimate problems and concerns to be addressed. And it isn’t a perfect agreement–everyone had to ‘give’ on items of great importance to reach this compromise. But it is a reasonable agreement, one that creates a framework for today and for the future.”

Separately, Kling said, “The Met Council took our concerns seriously and worked with us to craft a plan that will address the most significant impacts of the LRT line running so close to our studios.”

As part of the agreement, MPR will seek other sources of funding for window reglazing to mitigate LRT noise impacts on criticallistening spaces within its broadcast center, an effort supported by both the Met Council and the City of St. Paul.

Also under the plan, builders of the 11-mile, $914 million Central Corridor, which will connect with existing Hiawatha Line LRT service in Minneapolis, will:

* Install a 700-foot-long floating slab or its performance equivalent for the full length of the MPR building and two nearby historic churches to mitigate vibration and ground-borne noise from the train;

* Move a planned crossover switch from a location near MPR to a new location north of I-94, relocating asource of LRT-generated vibration;

* Work with MPR to design, install, and pay for modifications to three MPR studios to achieve “acoustical isolation” from LRT-generated noise;

* Maintain LRT vibration levels below specific thresholds within 32 recording and broadcast studios in the MPR Broadcast Center; and

* Restrict the use of train horns in a “quiet zone” in the area immediately surrounding MPR and the churches.

metcouncil_logo.jpgMet Council, the seven-county metropolitan planning organization overseeing transportation in the Twin Cities area, has agreed to monitor the noise and vibration impacts of the line during its construction, testing, and first year of operation to ensure the effectiveness of the mitigation plan and address any variances of agreed-upon mitigation criteria.

Construction is expected to commence in 2010, with revenue service beginning in 2014. 

LRT advocates nationwide welcomed news of the agreement, but many continue to question MPR's assertion that purported "significant impacts" would have affected the company's operation in any meaningful way. 

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