Rondo group pushes Met Council on light rail impact study

Central Corridor construction
Construction crews work on the Central Corridor project on University Avenue in St. Paul, Minn. in 2011.
MPR File Photo/Nikki Tundel

The St. Paul NAACP and Central Corridor businesses are asking that the Metropolitan Council comply with a nearly two-year-old court order over the light rail project.

The plaintiffs say they're still waiting for light rail planners to provide a detailed analysis on how construction is affecting revenue of nearby businesses.

"We're very disappointed," said Tom DeVincke, the attorney representing the businesses. "They should have done exactly what the court ordered. And they haven't."

The Met Council has argued it has already provided some analysis on business impacts. Within months of the original order in early 2011, light rail planners completed an environmental assessment and a document finding that the project would have no significant impact on businesses.

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But the government stopped short of amending its environmental impact statement, which is a more detailed study that offers possible measures for mitigation, Judge Donovan Frank concluded in his January 2012 order.

DeVincke said he plans to ask the judge to give the government 30 days to comply with the order, or stop the project.

"The reason it's still an important issue is because businesses are still suffering along the corridor, and only through fully analyzing the impacts of the project can one begin to consider proper mitigation of those impacts," DeVincke said.

The so-called Green Line connecting St. Paul to Minneapolis is already about three-fourths complete. The Met Council said it's preparing a legal response. It has offered forgivable loans and other forms of support to businesses.

The Rondo community lawsuit is the only one still pending over the Green Line. A hearing is scheduled for next month.

Other legal challenges from the University of Minnesota and Minnesota Public Radio have been resolved. A judge threw out MPR's suit last year.