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Central light-rail talks progressing, say Met Council, U

  • December 3, 2009 - 8:50 PM

When Rep. Alice Hausman sat down the University of Minnesota and the Metropolitan Council a little less than a month ago, she was hoping that she'd be breaking out the champagne by now. But the two heavy hitters told her Thursday that they're still working through their disagreements about the Central Corridor light-rail line.

"We have come a good distance," Peter Bell, chairman of the Met Council, said of the negotiations, which the U's Kathleen O'Brien described as taking up "every waking hour and even some non-waking hours."

The university remains concerned that vibrations and electromagnetic interference will affect sensitive research equipment along the line's Washington Avenue segment, but both sides said a lot of progress had been made on design and monitoring issues. Bell said he expects no "time bombs" or "deal-breakers," though it remained unclear when a final deal might be reached.

The council, which has already started some utility work on the 11-mile line, is hoping to get the project included in President Obama's budget this month and meet other deadlines set by the federal government in order to begin service in 2014. The $941 million line is expected to get half of its funding from the Federal Transit Administration, which has said the project can't go forward while a lawsuit by the U is in place.

The two sides have another major meeting set for Wednesday.

JIM FOTI

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