By Bill Clements
Dolan Media Newswires
Minneapolis — After more than a year of negotiations, the Metropolitan Council and the University of Minnesota announced they have agreed on a plan to protect university research facilities from the light rail trains that will start rumbling by in 2014.
In March, the Met Council and university reached an impasse on safeguards against vibrations and electromagnetic interference that could harm sensitive equipment and research conducted in university labs.
As part of the new agreement, the university will grant the temporary and permanent easements required for the $957 million, 11-mile Central Corridor light rail transit project to continue, and drop the lawsuit it filed against the project in September 2009.
The announcement of an agreement came after a series of mediation sessions before retired U.S. Magistrate Judge Jonathan Lebedoff.
“The final product is an agreement that will protect sensitive university research facilities, while keeping the Central Corridor project on time and within budget,” said Met Council Chairman Peter Bell. “It also will maintain the Council’s autonomy in the operation of this important new transit line.”
The university and the Met Council “have been working together to achieve mutual goals to improve the transportation system in the metropolitan area and to protect the university’s research enterprise and our campus community,” said Kathleen O’Brien, the universityís vice president for university services.