Friday, February 12, 2010

Minneapolis light rail agency responds to Minnesota Public Radio lawsuit

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On Feb. 5, MPR President Bill Kling appeared on his radio network in an attempt to justify his lawsuit against the Metropolitan Council over the Central Corridor light-rail transit project.

"In his one-sided presentation, Kling implied that the Council is reneging on a commitment to install a floating track bed with steel springs on Cedar Street in front of MPR's broadcast facilities," said Peter Bell of the Metropolitan Council. "This is simply not true. I requested an opportunity to tell our side of the story - preferably on that program. Thus far, however, MPR has refused. This hardly seems in keeping with either journalistic ethics or common standards of fair play.

Bell pointed to the following facts:

The Metropolitan Council always has recognized MPR's right to have their sensitive broadcast facilities protected from LRT noise and vibration. After extensive negotiations, the Council and MPR signed a 10-page Memorandum of Understanding dealing with these issues in April 2009.

In that document, the Council committed to installing a floating slab that "shall be designed to be capable of continuously providing vibration mitigation satisfying the criteria agreed upon in the mitigation plan, taking into account the temperature extremes of Minnesota weather, snow and ice conditions and the slope of Cedar Street...

"Without committing to a specific solution, because final engineering is not yet underway, the Council will consider, as one alternative, a ‘low-tuned' slab that ‘floats' on a spring mechanism, comparable to the GERB engineering solution that was brought to the attention of the CCPO and MPR."

"Now, almost a year later, ling has gone to court in an attempt to rewrite the agreement," Bell said. "He claims MPR resorted to legal action only after reaching out to the Council "at a variety of levels" - even offering to enter mediation - and being rebuffed.

"I'm not sure who Mr. Kling contacted, but neither he nor his staff ever contacted me or Regional Administrator Tom Weaver," Bell noted. "Our engineers and consultants firmly believe that installing a floating slab with a rubber pad on Cedar Street would fully satisfy the performance standards contained in our agreement with MPR."

Bell continued: "Rubber-supported floating slabs have a proven history of mitigating transit noise and vibration impacts, with at least 50 examples of successful in-place installations. The performance characteristics of rubber materials are well understood and can be reliably and confidently used for the Cedar Street alignment and for the climatic conditions experienced in our region. Cost estimates show that a rubber-supported slab would cost about 30 percent less than a steel spring-supported slab, which has been used only once in this country.

 

"We cannot allow MPR or any other group to, in effect, engineer critical portions of the Central Corridor LRT line. If their engineering solution were to fail, the taxpayers would be forced to correct a very expensive problem that MPR created. It also would set a precedent that would haunt other transit and public improvement projects for decades to come."

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