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Judge throws out MPR's light rail lawsuit against Met Council

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MPR headquarters
MPR's broadcast facility on Cedar St. in downtown St. Paul. The Central Corridor light rail line will run along Cedar St. next to the building.
MPR Photo/Bob Collins

Officials with Minnesota Public Radio say they are disappointed by a judge's ruling in a breach-of-contract suit against the Metropolitan Council over noise caused by light rail.

The Ramsey County District Court has thrown out MPR's suit against the council over noise and vibrations that will be caused by a light rail line, now undergoing construction.

Central Corridor Light Rail trains are supposed to run within 14 feet of MPR's studios in downtown St Paul.

MPR and the Met Council made an agreement in 2009 that the council would either use a spring-based system or rubber pad to reduce noise and vibrations near the MPR studios in downtown St. Paul.

MPR favored the more expensive spring system that has a track record of good performance. The Met Council instead choose the rubber pad method, which is less expensive but does not have a track record in Minnesota's weather conditions.

MPR saw that choice as a breach of contract. 

Ramsey County District Court Judge Elena Ostby disagreed. She ruled MPR's lawsuit was "premature." She wrote in her decision that while the rubber pad doesn't have a good record, it doesn't have a bad one, and may well sufficiently protect MPR from noise and vibrations.

Ostby confirmed the original agreement's requirement for a spring system if the pads fail to be sufficient.

Met Council Chair Sue Haigh said in a statement that her organization is gratified by Judge Ostby's decision.  Haigh wrote Met Council will continue to honor its contract with MPR to mitigate vibration near the MPR building.

MPR is still considering its options, said Nick Kereakos, MPR vice president of technology and operations.

"This lawsuit is based on performance; it's based on advice from engineering experts that the vibration/mitigation for the light rail is designed to meet the performance standards in the agreement," Kereakos said. "If those aren't met, the judge has confirmed it will have to be replaced to meet those standards."