Vote to decide LRT route delayed

Light rail car
A light rail car runs along the Hiawatha line in Minneapolis. A new LRT route is being discussed for the central corridor, linking downtown Minneapolis with downtown St. Paul.
MPR file photo

An advisory panel on the Central Corridor light rail transit project has delayed a key vote on how to weave the train through the University of Minnesota campus.

But many panel members indicated Wednesday they would not support the U's preferred route through Dinkytown.

One of them, St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman, said other project stakeholders have made many compromises along the way. He suggested it may be time for the university to get on board with the Washington Avenue route.

"Understand also that our community is being asked to sacrifice at this point in the game, and it's having a real-world impact on them. There is no perfect solution to this project. There are good solutions. And this is a good solution, and we have got to move it forward," said Coleman.


Coleman and others think spending any more time on the U's alternative route would delay the project by at least a year.

But the U says its so-called Northern Alignment would better serve the future growth of the campus. Officials are concerned that the Metropolitan Council's preferred route along Washington Avenue would pose traffic and safety issues.

University Vice President Kathleen O'Brien says she wants the project to go forward, but she wants it done right.

"We want to have a successful line. We believe that sometimes, you have to go a little slower to speed up. And if we really want to do this line right, we really need to listen to everyone's issues and make sure we're coming to resolution on them and not trying to set them aside and say they aren't real," O'Brien said.

However, the U's route fails a federal funding test that measures the cost-effectiveness of transit projects. U officials say it could come closer to passing that test if ridership were calculated in a different way.

The advisory panel will make a recommendation on the route on May 28.