Citing a need to protect its science labs, the University of Minnesota today took its battle over the Central Corridor Light Rail Transit project to Hennepin County District Court.
In a lawsuit filed against the Metropolitan Council, the University claims that construction and operation of the line slated to run through its East Bank Campus poses a threat to some 80 laboratory facilities in 17 buildings along the Washington Avenue route. 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.
“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,” University President Robert Bruininks said in a statement announcing the suit.
The council has worked with the University for months and has dedicated millions of dollars toward mitigating potential noise and vibration from the construction and from trains that eventually would run along the line. And council chairman Peter Bell has argued repeatedly that the line will help the University by relieving traffic along Washington Avenue.
Bruininks said that the University is eager to reach agreement with the council on “scientifically effective mitigations so that the project can move forward.” But he added that if the project “is not done right,” it poses too high a risk to research into treatments and cures for life-threatening illnesses like cancer and diabetes as well as to research that helps further the state’s medical device and high-tech industries.
“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,” Bruininks said.