Light rail takes heavy criticism

Central Corridor light rail is hit with twin accusations of unfair planning.

On Wednesday, a coalition of black advocacy groups, businesses and residents âÄî including the NAACP St. Paul branch âÄî filed suit in federal court against planners of the Central Corridor light-rail line, accusing them of failing to adequately consider the welfare of the black community. Notably, this lawsuit comes on the heels of a Federal Transit Administration proposal last week that calls for new transit funding to be awarded based on what it calls community âÄúlivabilityâÄù factors, in addition to the somewhat simplistic cost-benefit analyses currently in place. FTA administrator Peter Rogoff went so far as to single out the Central Corridor as a project that could benefit from the new system of assessment, calling it problematic âÄúfrom a civil rights perspectiveâÄù and citing the interests of both black and Asian communities in St. Paul. A project of the Central CorridorâÄôs scope faces many inevitable hurdles on its way to implementation. Last yearâÄôs unruly mitigation dispute between the University of Minnesota and Metro Transit, for example, remains unresolved, and Minnesota Public Radio negotiated similar concerns earlier last year. The Central Corridor project has every potential to be a boon for the Twin Cities, but it is too easy for the interests of less powerful communities to be overlooked while influential institutions like MPR and the University flex their political muscle. While itâÄôs unreasonable to expect that everyone be entirely happy with the final version of the Central Corridor light rail, the true measure of its success will be its capacity to better serve the underserved.