Central Corridor - Another example of the long term consequences of lack of leadership?
Although I have a lot of sympathy for the bad position in which my fellow scientists have been placed vis-a-vis relocation of sensitive instruments...
Once again we see the consequences of poor leadership on the matter. Rather than fighting tooth and nail against the Central Corridor proposal, the university should have been working all along, in cooperation with the Met Council, to try to solve these issues.
Although moving sensitive instruments to the Mayo garage at first seemed like a good idea, it would probably be a good idea to talk to all of the major players to see whether, ultimately, a better move would be to one of the new buildings under construction.
Even as orange barrels and multi colored paint were placed in downtown St. Paul last week, marking some of the first visible work on the Central Corridor light rail line, the University of Minnesota is not yet ready to have construction begin on campus.
In the next few weeks, a University team led by Timothy Mulcahy, vice president for research, will present recommendations to President Bob Bruininks on how to proceed with mitigating the impacts of the Central Corridor.
The report will combine the expert opinions of both the Metropolitan Council and the University on how to alleviate vibrations and noise from the line that could impact 80 research labs in 17 buildings along Washington Avenue.
The University, in conjunction with the Met Council and surrounding cities and counties, published a memorandum of understanding last summer which forged an agreement on issues such as traffic and parking solutions, the location of light rail stations and the design of the pedestrian mall. However, the agreement came only after losing a battle to have the line run in a tunnel directly underneath Washington Avenue.
From hiring experts, consultants and putting in faculty hours and services, O'Brien said the University has spent nearly $2 million on the Central Corridor over the last several years.
That doesn't include the cost of moving the University's Nuclear Magnetic Resonance lab, which officials say cannot stay near the line as it will impact the facilities sensitive research equipment.
Estimates for moving the facility are anywhere between $10 and $20 million, Beverly Ostrowski, facilities manager at the NMR lab, said.
Lab officials are seeking funds from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to move the lab to either the Mayo Memorial Building parking garage or to the new biomedical sciences buildings.
Ostrowski said she expects a decision from NIH in October, but even if the funds come through, she said it's still important that the University and the Central Corridor come up with a working mitigation plan.
While the University has been in these negotiations for about 14 months, the University's President of Parking and Transportation Services, Bob Baker, who is also chair of the University's work group with the Central Corridor, said that other universities have taken much longer to negotiate light rail lines, including the four-year mitigation of a light rail line at the University of Washington.
Second Ward councilman Cam Gordon said that he was initially disappointed that the University decided to seek mitigation plans so late, and said he wishes the University, city and county could have worked together earlier to prevent these negotiations from stalling the project.
Time is money for the Met Council, which fears a large inflationary price tag could come along with delaying the project.
Met Council spokesman Steve Dornfeld , said he understands the University's concerns for their research institutions, but there is not much "give" in the projects schedule.
If you draw a line in the sand - as the university did - and then something is forced down your unwilling throat, this is the result. It is time for the university to start learning how to make contingency plans for worst case scenarios. Perhaps we can learn something from this situation?