It should be no surprise that the largest transit project in Minnesota has caused multiple lawsuits to be filed. What is disappointing is that two of our beloved institutions have taken this as an opportunity to fill the coffers. MPR and the University of Minnesota have both decided that lawsuits are the way to go about mitigation for claims that can easily be resolved. Why resolve them when you have the chance to get millions out of the deal.
On the other hand, the Rondo neighborhood (who remember I-94 plowing through the neighborhood) have some real concerns about the impact on their neighborhoods. The group who has the most at stake are the small businesses that line University Avenue and make that corridor what it is today. Without these businesses central corridor would be a pipe dream.
The Pioneer Press understands all the players and has this to say:
And could public transportation have a better friend in the media than MPR? Why, the very collective nature of the train is right up their ideological alley, except, well, not if they actually have to see it or hear it or feel it rumble. Their studios are too delicate, we are told, and the prospect of one of their pitchmen having to start over on an ad for biscuits or T-shirts or CDs or memberships or whatever they are begging for around the clock is enough to make them stamp their feet and demand accommodation.
At the other end of the line, the researchers at the University of Minnesota are worried the trains will rattle their test tubes or slosh something out of a mortar. God knows what they are up to.
And in the middle are the underdog small-business proprietors on University Avenue who quite likely will see their efforts to make an honest buck get trampled. These people should have been more careful whom they voted for. You have white people with gleaming smiles at both ends of the corridor and a generally mixed ethnic bag of people in the middle trying to chase what is left of the American dream. They have sued, too, and they'd better get theirs. The old Rondo neighborhood took it on the chin the first time for I-94. This time around, under the umbrella of the NAACP, neighborhood groups argue that the line violates environmental justice laws, which is another way of saying that those who want windmills don't care who gets disrupted by them, just so it isn't them.
MPR and the U have taken away what really needs to be addressed, the thrivability of small businesses before, during, and after construction of the light rail. While not all the business want the LRT, it would make the most sense to work with them now to make sure those that want to stay and thrive, can.