University of Minnesota files suit seeking protection from adverse effects of Central Corridor light rail line
Contacts: University News Service, (612) 624-5551
MINNEAPOLIS / ST. PAUL (09/22/2009) — The University of Minnesota filed suit against the Metropolitan Council today in Hennepin County District Court, seeking protection from the adverse effects of construction and operation of the Central Corridor Light Rail Transit (CCLRT) project on the university's East Bank Campus.
"This action is being taken because we are simply not far enough along in reaching a solution to the very real challenges this light rail line poses for the University of Minnesota's core research mission," said President Robert Bruininks. "The Board of Regents and I have a solemn responsibility to protect the university's core research mission, decades of public investment in research infrastructure and hundreds of millions of dollars in research grants brought into this state each year by faculty research in facilities that are at risk."
Bruininks added that the university has long been a supporter of the CCLRT project and is eager to reach agreement with the Metropolitan Council on scientifically effective mitigations so that the project can move forward. "But the consequences of not protecting our land grant university's research infrastructure along the Washington Avenue corridor from the adverse effects that could result if this public works project is not done right are just too great to risk."
University researchers along the corridor are working to develop treatments and cures for life-threatening illnesses like cancer and diabetes, and the state's medical device and high-tech industries depend upon research happening in these labs. There are 80 laboratory facilities in
17 buildings along or in close proximity to the proposed CCLRT Washington Avenue route.
"We have said on a number of occasions that our fundamental objective is to identify effective solutions, based on sound science, that will move this transit project forward while protecting our public research mission and resources from potentially serious degradation. It remains the university's goal to find these solutions. This lawsuit does not preclude us from continuing to sit down with our project partners and work through the remaining issues to find scientifically effective solutions that will protect our research mission." said Bruininks.
The suit's timing was largely dictated by Minnesota law that requires filing of environmental claims within 30 days of the Metropolitan Council's final decision on the adequacy of its environmental review of the project in August. The suit alleges that the final environmental impact statement and related decisions about the project fail to adequately address serious adverse effects the rail line will cause, according to university General Counsel Mark Rotenberg, who filed the claim today.