U asks for “floating slab” to mitigate Central Corridor

Briana Bierschbach

University of Minnesota officials presented a July 21 report to President Robert Bruininks on mitigation for the Central Corridor light rail line, and have proposed installing a "floating slab" beneath the train tracks from the Washington Avenue bridgehead to Harvard Street. This slab will minimize vibration and noise impacts on more than 80 research labs in 17 buildings in the area that the University says houses more than $100 million in research grants.

But officials from the Metropolitan Council say a proposed floating slab could make the project too expensive to gain a full funding grant agreement from the federal government, which would then fund half of the $915 million dollar project, according to Finance and Commerce.

Laura Baenen, the Met Council’s spokeswoman for the Central Corridor, told Finance and Commerce that the the installation of a floating slab would add “millions” to the project cost because it would take longer to install than the currently planned "resilient track fasteners."

But University officials say the floating slab and other changes would decrease the anticipated impact to the labs, including the Nuclear Magnetic Resonance lab, which is seeking a grant from the National Institutes of Health to move the facility further away from the line.

In a recent agreement with Minnesota Public Radio, the Met Council agreed to a 700 foot floating slab in the downtown St. Paul area.