U report voices concern over Central Corridor

Briana Bierschbach

A report by University of Minnesota faculty, led by Vice President for Research Tim Mulcahy, finds that there are ways to build and run the Central Corridor light rail line through campus without major impacts on nearby research labs. However, mitigating these impacts comes with a fair price tag, according to the report.


The report, presented to University President Robert Bruininks, combines the expert opinions and studies of faculty from the University and research done by the Metropolitan Council.

The committee writes that the University is concerned about noise, vibrations and electromagnetic interference from the line could damage sensitive research labs, including the Nuclear Magnetic Resonance lab along Washington Avenue, which is currently seeking a grant from the National Institutes of Health to relocate to the Mayo Building parking ramp.


Peter Bell, chairman of the Met Council, issued a statement Wednesday saying the council is “frustrated” that the University did not ask the council’s staff or consultants to appear before the University committee.


“We believe the mitigation measures we have developed and committed to implement will allow the University’s research facilities to function as well in the future as they do today,” Bell said in the statement. “In fact, in many locations the project will significantly improve research conditions. Their continued resistance has the very real potential to delay the project and increase its cost.”


So far, the University has spent about $2 million in its work to mitigate the impacts of the Central Corridor, according to a recent story in the Minnesota Daily.  

The Met Council is hoping to get a full funding grant agreement from the federal government — which would fund half of the $915 million line — by the spring of 2010 and start construction in the summer.


When complete, the line would connect downtown St. Paul and Minneapolis via University and Washington Avenues.


The final environmental impact statement on the Central Corridor has been published, and the Met Council hopes the Federal Transit Administration will publish their response to the statement by the end of the month.


The University is also reviewing the recently completed environmental impact statement, and expects to have an opinion on it after the public comment period is over near the end of July.