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University of Minnesota proposes options for light-rail

The Minnesota Daily reported Friday that the University of Minnesota was still talking with Metropolitan Council officials about a possible light-rail line that would go through campus.

While the Central Corridor rail line would connect the Twin Cities to the university, the price of the project is causing some problems.

According to the project Web site, “the Metropolitan Council must lower the cost of the project to $840 million in order to receive federal funding.? However, if a tunnel was built underneath Washington Avenue Southeast on the East Bank, which is the university’s hope, the project would cost $130 million more.

Kathleen O'Brien, Vice President for University Services, is part of Central Corridor Management Committee. She said that there is one other, less expensive option worth considering.

“We asked that the northern alignment be studied. At that point, that was defined as going … through the Dinkytown rail corridor to the northern edge of campus,? said O’Brien. “The Regents' position, that has been the University's position, was the northern alignment was our preferred route.?

Even though the northern alignment was the preferred route, the Federal Transit Authority stated the line would go through campus on Washington Avenue in a tunnel.

Although O’Brien believes in strengthening the transit system, she does have one concern with the Central Corridor going through campus.

“[The University] is already congested. We already have a high level of accidents along the street, and adding light rail just is going to cause a failure of the transportation system,? she said.

This particular concern is a major reason why the northern alignment and a tunnel under Washington Avenue are the two preferred options for the light-rail line.