Opponents file civil rights claim against Central Corridor

Briana Bierschbach

Opponents of various aspects of the Central Corridor light rail project keep popping up as the project gets ever closer to the construction phase. A new opponent surfaced Thursday — the Preserve and Benefit Historic Rondo Committee.

The group, representing businesses and communities along University Avenue, has filed a federal civil rights complaint over the project, alleging that the new train route will have a negative impact on businesses and and neighborhoods on the route, according to MPR.

Specifically, the group feels the construction will disrupt businesses, remove parking in the area and isolate neighborhoods.

"The [Met Council] appears to have concluded that any economic development is a good thing," Attorney Thomas DeVincke wrote in a May 20 letter to the Federal Transit Administration’s office of civil rights, according to the Pioneer Press. "This ‘analysis’ ignores the fact that the Project’s construction will increase property taxes, result in substantial business interruption, eliminate parking for existing businesses and increase property values and attendant rates."

Met Council chairman Peter Bell told the Pioneer Press that the group’s argument is like, "saying I got a $20,000 raise and I don’t want it because that also means I’m going to pay higher property taxes."

This complaint comes shortly after the Met Council and MPR resolved issues over noise and vibrations near the stations "sensitive" facilities, and the St. Paul City Council almost de-railed the project by fighting the location of train garage in the historic Lowertown area of St. Paul.

Issues with the University of Minnesota and the project are ongoing as well. Researchers in the University’s NMR Lab (nuclear magnetic resonance) are worried that the vibrations and noise of the light rail line will disrupt their research, according to a recent article in the Star Tribune.