More sparring on Central Corridor light rail line; U of M wants less vibration

The University of Minnesota isn’t picking up good vibrations from the Central Corridor light rail line, and wants the Met Council to make some changes to alleviate any possible shaking around sensitive buildings.

No can do — too expensive, says the Met Council.

Finance and Commerce reports that U officials want a “floating slab” under the tracks to minimize vibrations from the light rail trains as they pass laboratories.

But doing that on Washington Avenue would be so costly as to jeopardize federal funding, the Met Council says.

Says the publication:

With only a year to go before construction is expected to begin, [university officials] worry that vibration and electromagnetic interference from the trains could have “an adverse impact” on 80 research labs in 17 buildings along Washington Avenue, which is part of the 11-mile route for the Central Corridor.

University officials say the floating slab track bed — and other fixes — would soften the expected impact to the labs, which house research related to everything from cancer, AIDS and heart disease to biofuels, nanotechnology and solar energy.

And it quotes Laura Baenen, the Met Council’s communications manager for the Central Corridor, saying:

…the installation of a floating slab would add “millions” to the project cost, primarily because it would take several more months to install, compared with the Met Council’s plan for “resilient track fasteners.”
“That is where the money comes in,” Baenen said. “It is much more expensive due to the amount of time.”

The exact cost difference, she says, would require additional engineering. But in any case, “You don’t just buy [floating slabs] off the shelf.”

In April, the Met Council reached an agreement with Minnesota Public Radio in St. Paul over similar issues, agreeing, among other things, to “install a 700-foot-long floating slab or its performance equivalent for the full length of the MPR building and two nearby historic churches to mitigate vibration and ground-borne noise from the train.”

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Comments (1)

  1. Submitted by Teresa Gowan on 09/22/2009 - 04:32 pm.

    I’m outraged about the University claiming they are doing this to protect our research. Using the big guns to suppress the central public transit projects hardly jibes with the U’s supposed emphasis on sustainability. I think university students and employees should get their own voices heard on this.

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