Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Floating Slab Doesn't Float Met Council's Boat...

The latest in the continuing saga of the U, Met Council, and light rail:

University of Minnesota officials have a modest proposal for the new Central Corridor light-rail train (LRT) — build a “floating slab” beneath the train tracks, which will minimize vibration in nearby laboratories.

Met Council officials, who will oversee construction of the light-rail line, say the university’s proposal itself doesn’t float. A floating slab foundation on Washington Avenue, they say, could make the project so expensive that it would lose all-important federal funding.

University officials are unmoved. With only a year to go before construction is expected to begin, they worry that vibration and electromagnetic interference from the trains could have “an adverse impact” on 80 research labs in 17 buildings along Washington Avenue, which is part of the 11-mile route for the Central Corridor.

The Met Council says it has already “gone the extra mile” to address the university’s concerns.

The council noted that it has: hired two national electrical engineering experts who were involved in a light-rail line that serves Washington University in St. Louis; proposed installing copper wires under the tracks to cancel electromagnetic interference; and used vibration testing methodology that’s consistent with Federal Transit Administration standards.

Moreover, the council says that the light-rail project would cause less vibration than some of the university’s own projects, and that the current plan for street level construction is less disruptive than a previous university-endorsed plan that called for a tunnel through the area.

Bottom line, the university’s “continued resistance has the very real potential to delay the project and increase its cost, a cost that would be borne by Ramsey and Hennepin counties, the Counties Transit Improvement Board, and the state of Minnesota,” the council’s response stated.

“Also, a substantial cost increase would likely disqualify the project from federal funding.”
And so the PR nightmare, that is the University's behavior in this matter, continues. The patience of the community is badly tested. Sympathy for the U, once again, is getting harder and harder to find. It doesn't look as if the current crew at the U is up to the task at hand. Time for a change?

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