Light-rail blackmail

MnDOT shouldn’t let property owners push them around with lawsuit threats.

Daily Editorial Board

As if transportation infrastructure werenâÄôt already good for business, many companies are taking advantage of the publicâÄôs Central Corridor Light-Rail Project to squeeze more money out of their property sales than what the state, the county and The Minnesota Department of Transportation have them appraised for. 

On more than a couple of occasions companies have threatened to go to court. MnDOT invariably acquiesced on all occasions to avoid going to condemnation, where the state would force the property owner to sell his or her property. MnDOTâÄôs justification has been that they are willing to pay more now because it will get the project done more quickly and save more money in the long run.

MnDOT should be more patient about the project and serve taxpayers by ensuring that the overall cost is not more than it should be. 

Real estate experts note that while appraisals involve detailed calculations, they unavoidably are subjective estimates in the end. 

Companies should acknowledge that the light rail is historically proven to be good for the economy and good for business. The Metropolitan Council should be concerned about paying too much because they want something done quickly. 

The public should understand that large projects take time and local businesses should understand that it is in the interest of everyone to make the project work for a fair price. 

The managers of the project need to slow down, demand fair sales and ensure that the project is completed without being bullied by exploitative business owners.