Thursday, August 20, 2009

Central Light-rail Line Gets Key FTA Support

University of Minnesota Threatens to Withhold Land

Rotenberg on vacation

From the Star-Tribune:

A key federal agency has given the green light for the 11-mile Central Corridor light-rail route between downtown Minneapolis and St. Paul, despite a last-minute appeal from University of Minnesota to slow the process.

The federal approval, called a record of decision, does not guarantee federal funding, but is an essential hurdle that needed to be crossed to keep the project alive and on track.

University general counsel Mark Rotenberg wrote to federal officials Tuesday, requesting that they delay issuing the final record of decision until the U and the Met Council "reach a comprehensive written agreement that mitigates the project's adverse environmental effects and preserves the public's enormous investment in the University's research corridor on Washington Avenue."

Officials met as recently as Monday, according to the letter, but have not reached a formal resolution on how to mitigate the impacts. The university's Board of Regents will not contribute land for the corridor's use until the issues are resolved, the letter said.

Rotenberg was on vacation and unavailable to comment on Wednesday's federal decision to move ahead with the project, according to an assistant.

Bell said that he was disappointed by the U's last-minute appeal, because any slowdown would have delayed construction for a year, costing an additional $30 to $40 million.

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