Several vehicles were reported to have caused "severe damage" when they were driven on exposed light-rail tracks in downtown St. Paul late last week.

According to a police report, the tracks along 4th Street between Sibley and Jackson Streets in Lowertown were driven on overnight between Thursday and Friday. Vehicles drove at least twice and maybe three times on the tracks, said Laura Baenen, spokeswoman for the Central Corridor light-rail project.

The damage to the concrete precast track panels and switch machines, which provide power and move the track switches, hasn't been assessed yet, she said. It's not yet known if repairs or replacements are needed, Baenen said.

Driving on the tracks isn't allowed. Whoever drove on the tracks last week also would have violated a no-left turn sign and driven the wrong way on the one-way stretch of 4th Street, Baenen said. Metro Transit police are investigating the incident to try to identify the drivers involved. If anyone has information, they are encouraged to contact police at 612-349-7222.

The first Central Corridor light-rail train was towed between Minneapolis and St. Paul on Sunday in a test run. Once the line is electrified later this year, trains will begin regular tests, and the outcome will help determine the line's opening date next year.

Safety posters will be going up soon in light-rail kiosks to encourage pedestrians and drivers to practice light-rail safety. The posters stress that people should stay off the tracks, obey traffic signals and use marked crosswalks.

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