Thursday, May 6, 2010

Fighting Giants


So two of the oldest institutions in Minnesota think they know better how to plan and build transportation, than those that actually do it for a living. In todays world with LRT, street cars, subways, elevated trains, trolleys, and all the other sorts of transit avalable around the world, the University of Minnesota (U) and Minnesota Public Radio (MPR) think that no real mitigation can be proposed for their issues.

What is really ironic about this situation is that neither have taken any internal steps to fix this problem, not that they should, but why not be pro-active? The U should be relocating it's sensative laboratories if it really generates millions of dollar for the University. MPR should have some idea how to further sound proof their studios in a dense urban core location. If we could step out of our bubble for a moment we would realize that these are minor issues for a project that is going to change the Twin Cities region forever, in a good way.

From the MPR story:
Scientists like David Blank are at the heart of the debate. Blank, a chemistry professor at the U, reports to work by taking 55 stairs down to the sub-basement of Koltoff Hall on Washington Avenue.

Blank works with laser beams. His lab contains two giant tables littered with mirrors and prisms that steer the lasers in different directions. Blank and his team of researchers are watching how these pulses of light move, so they can help develop the next generation of solar cells.

What's under the table is just as interesting. Its feet are cylinders the size of propane tanks, filled with compressed air.

Blank built his laser systems to rest on the air because light waves are vulnerable to even the smallest vibrations. That's also why his lab is located deep down in Kolthoff Hall.

The tables are designed to hold up against the constant ruckus from buses and trucks on busy Washington Avenue, which is 130 feet from his lab. But he doesn't know how the tables will manage the different vibrations from the proposed light-rail trains along the avenue.

Last year, the university spent $40,000 on lobbying on matters related to the Central Corridor, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. By its own estimates, the university has spent at least $500,000 on outside consulting over issues of vibration and electromagnetic interference, and $1 million in professional staff time.

I realize the U has to keep its own interests at heart, but this seems like an instiution that would rather keep building parking lots and garages to collect more revenue from it's 40,000 students. It really boggles the mind why the U wouldn't want LRT at its front door, but something is simmering just beneath the surface. For the sake of my readers, I won't even begin to discuss the MPR lawsuit and issues.


1 comment:

L.J. said...

I think you overlooked the progress made by the U and Met Council in mid-April. While a final agreement is yet to be made, the U has agreed to the first stages of construction and are settling the other concerns. Also, the U has actually reduced parking in the last 2 years and most of the parking they do have is not targeted at their 60,000 students, but at faculty and staff.

http://minnesota.publicradio.org/display/web/2010/04/16/umn-lightrail-deal/