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Latest on Light Rail Through U

From 'CCO's website:

On Wednesday, the Metropolitan Council approved a light rail route that will run across the Washington Avenue Bridge down Washington Avenue to University Avenue, and then on to St. Paul.

At first, the University of Minnesota administrators, area businesses and residents wanted the light rail to tunnel under Washington Avenue, but that was too expensive.

The Metropolitan Council Chair Peter Bell understands the concerns of businesses and residents.

"We're going to be working with them to mitigate those concerns," said Bell.

The University of Minnesota is also studying an option to push reroute [sic] the light rail to an old railroad bridge over the river. However, the plan could delay construction for a year and jeopardize millions of dollars in federal funding.

Keep it up, President Bruininks, maybe you'll be able to torpedo this project yet...

The Metropolitan Council Chair and former University of Minnesota regent, Peter Bell, deserves a great deal of credit for getting this job done. Thanks, chairman Bell, for a thankless task.

Mr. B.

The Daily weighs in:

Metropolitan Council members voted on Wednesday to take the Central Corridor light-rail line into final design - and nixed plans for an underground tunnel.

Vice President for University Services Kathleen O'Brien, a member of the Central Corridor Management Committee, voted to recommend that the Metropolitan Council adopt this plan.

However, she said she voted in favor for the sake of progressing project planning but was not in favor of the line's route through campus.

The University fought hard for a tunnel underneath Washington Avenue, but that feature would have added significantly to project costs.

The transit and pedestrian mall on campus could be open to light-rail, pedestrian and vehicle traffic.

Another possibility would only allow emergency vehicles, busses and pedestrians on the Washington Avenue segment of the route, pushing other traffic onto surrounding streets.

Studies will be completed later this year to see what is feasible.

Also, the University is in the process of studying another possible alignment. Putting the line farther north through Dinkytown would avoid Washington Avenue altogether.

Peter Bell, chair of the Metropolitan Council, said the University-funded study will be considered if it meets the federal cost-effectiveness guidelines, although that would not guarantee the plan would change.

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