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Group calls new Central Corridor stops an 'incomplete victory'

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Federal, state and local officials said Monday that they've struck a deal to add three new stations to the proposed Central Corridor light rail line. 

They say the stations will better serve residents along the eastern end of the line in St. Paul.

Mayor Chris Coleman said he hopes they'll serve the area in a way that the Interstate 94 didn't, when it went through St. Paul's Rondo neighborhood 50 years ago.

"It will mean stops every half mile on that corridor between the state Capitol and Snelling, which we think is really important to serve people that still have a long memory and understand the impact of what the last major transportation decision - which was 94 - did to that community," Coleman said. 

"So I think it's a big trust issue. It's a heck of an investment. It will help spur new development on some of the other corners that weren't going to be served otherwise, so we're very excited."

The stops were part of the demands made by a coalition of neighborhood groups that have called for changes to the project. But spokeswoman Veronica Burt called the additions an incomplete victory. 

She said the rail line still threatens to fundamentally change the neighborhood along University Avenue, like Interstate 94 did. She said the train will eliminate street parking and construction will interfere with businesses in the area.

"Our ethnic businesses, we certainly don't want to lose those again, like what happened with I-94," Burt said. "And also, wanting to have that parking restored, because its such an ethnic destination."

Burt's group has sued to change the project, as has the University of Minnesota. The billion-dollar transit line is scheduled to open for service between downtown Minneapolis and downtown St. Paul in 2014.