MSA discusses light rail at final forum

The President and VP will be moving on to work on the Board of Regents next year.

Amber Kispert

The topic of the night for the Minnesota Student Association on Tuesday was the Central Corridor.

Following a special address from director of Parking and Transportation Services Bob Baker about the light-rail line, MSA passed a resolution supporting moving the proposed light rail from Washington Avenue to the Northern Alignment route, which would run primarily through Dinkytown.

“You know and I know that as students travel across the campus, the last thing they are doing is watching for traffic,” Baker said. “The Northern Alignment has better opportunities in terms of safety, development opportunities and functionality.”

Missy Gettel, next year’s campus relations committee chairwoman, presented the resolution.

MSA is in support of the alternate route and it will begin petitioning the Metropolitan Council to include the Northern Alignment route in its environmental assessment, Gettel said.

“The Northern Alignment would be better,” Gettel said. “That is basically the gist of it.”

If the light rail would travel the Northern Alignment path instead of down Washington Avenue, it’d travel from the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood, across Bridge No. 9 and through Dinkytown.

Baker said Northern Alignment could save around $100 million in building and mitigation costs.

People tend to think the Washington Avenue route would serve people better in terms of distance, Baker said.

“We think, long term, the Northern Alignment will serve the population just as well as Washington Avenue,” he said. “It will also provide a kick in the pants for development up in Dinkytown.”

The Northern Alignment is feasible, Baker said, stressing that the University isn’t completely ignoring Washington Avenue – rather, it’s looking at all options.

“This is a 100-year decision,” he said. “We want to go through a thoughtful analysis of what will be best for the University and best for the region.”

More MSA members

There are more changes to MSA’s Executive Board.

After electing Isaac Kesete last meeting as the Facilities, Housing and Transit Committee chairman, MSA had to elect a new chairperson. Members didn’t explain why.

Current Facilities, Housing and Transit Committee member Paul Strain won the unanimous vote to take the position.

Tuesday was supposed to mark MSA President Emma Olson and MSA Vice President Ross Skattum’s final forum, but both return next year as the student representatives to the Board of Regents.

Skattum will hold the title of ranking-representative to the Board of Regents which will give him voting power within the executive board.

“I want to thank you guys for all of the hard work you put in this year,” Skattum said. “I guess I didn’t learn my lesson this year, so I’m going to be working with MSA again next year.”