MPR v. Met Council lawsuit dismissed

MPR originally filed the suit in February 2010.

by Kaitlin Walker

The Ramsey County District Court on Friday dismissed Minnesota Public RadioâÄôs breach-of-contract lawsuit against the Metropolitan Council over the Central Corridor light rail.

The suit, originally filed Feb. 4, 2010, accused the Met Council of choosing an inadequate vibration and noise mitigation system for the light rail, which will pass outside MPRâÄôs broadcast and recording studio in downtown St. Paul. MPR cited concerns that the vibration and noise of the light rail would affect its recordings.

MPR said in the suit that it had hoped the Met Council would use a steel spring system that had a good track record for protecting against vibration, but the council opted for a cheaper, rubber pad method.

âÄúOur lawsuit was based on the advice of our engineering experts that the vibration mitigation system âĦ was not designed to meet the standards of the agreement we have with the Met Council,âÄù MPR spokeswoman Christina Schmitt said in an email.

According to an article on the suit by MPR, Judge Elena Ostby threw the case out because it was âÄúprematureâÄù and the rubber pad doesnâÄôt have a bad track record and may sufficiently protect the studio from vibration and noise.

âÄúThe council is gratified at todayâÄôs action by the Ramsey County District Court to dismiss MPRâÄôs lawsuit,âÄù said Susan Haigh, chairwoman of the Met Council, in a statement. âÄúWe have always felt the contract between the council and MPR is clear and unambiguous. The council has and will continue to honor its contract with MPR to mitigate vibration near the MPR building.âÄù

Schmitt said MPR will continue to support the light rail and work with the Met Council.

âÄúWhile we are disappointed by Judge OstbyâÄôs ruling that an unproven system can be used, we are pleased that she affirmed the Met CouncilâÄôs obligation to meet the standards,âÄù Schmitt said. âÄúIf the system chosen by the Met Council fails to do this, the judge has confirmed that it will have to be replaced.âÄù

MPRâÄôs lawsuit was one of three involving the project. The University of Minnesota dropped a similar lawsuit over the light rail last September.

The University filed its lawsuit against the Met Council in September 2009, citing concerns about the impact vibration and electromagnetic interference would have on sensitive campus research equipment.

The UniversityâÄôs Board of Regents granted the Met Council an easement in April 2010 that allowed construction on the light rail to begin as the two entities negotiated a deal that would end the lawsuit.

In September 2010, the board formally dropped the lawsuit and approved plans for the installation of floating slabs under Washington Avenue to absorb vibration, a dual-split power supply to cancel out electromagnetic interference and a framework for regulating noise, dust and vibration during construction.