Response to ‘Light rail, heavy words’

With the University’s aggressive demands, who is being the bully?

Steven Dornfeld

I was quite surprised to see the Minnesota Daily editorial suggesting the Metropolitan Council has engaged in âÄúbullyingâÄù and âÄúpublic intimidationâÄù in an effort to resolve our differences with the University of Minnesota over the Central Corridor Light Rail Transit project. Your reporters donâÄôt hesitate to call us for information and comment. I would expect your editorial writers to do the same before casting aspersions or allowing University Vice President Kathleen OâÄôBrien to do so. The Met Council has acknowledged the legitimate concerns of the University to protect its research labs located along Washington Avenue Southeast. During more than three dozen meetings over the last year, we have agreed to mitigation measures and design standards that go beyond what our engineers and consultants believe are necessary to protect those facilities âÄî and beyond what the Federal Transit Administration would require. Yet the University continues to insist that our transit system agree to pay monetary damages to the University in the future if our trains exceed the design standards, regardless of whether such exceedances cause actual harm to University research or equipment. The University has hired high-priced Washington lobbyists and local lawyers to press their demands, including filing a lawsuit that threatens to delay, if not derail, the project. I would ask: Who is being the bully here? Chairman Peter Bell and the Met Council are not alone in our frustration with the University. Just talk to Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak, St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman, Hennepin County Rail Authority Chairman Peter McLaughlin, Ramsey County Rail Authority Chairman Jim McDonough or just about anyone else involved in this project. Plans for the Central Corridor project will improve the research environment along Washington Avenue SE, removing 20,000 cars and trucks a day that now rumble past University labs. They will also provide improved transit for thousands of University students and staff and create a transit-pedestrian mall that will be a showplace for the University. Steven Dornfeld The Metropolitan Council public affairs director