Months of public friction and legal maneuvering came to an end Wednesday when the Metropolitan Council and University of Minnesota Board of Regents approved an agreement on the Central Corridor light-rail line's operation through campus.
As part of the agreement, which outlines protection of sensitive research equipment at the university and how to respond to potential damage, the university dropped a lawsuit. That action removes a major hurdle in getting half of the project's $957 million cost paid for by the Federal Transit Administration.
The two public bodies had been in mediation for months and came to a tentative agreement last week.
"It's time for this matter to be done," Regent John Frobenius said before the vote, which was unanimous. "The agreement's not perfect, but it does protect us going forward."
The university has not released the text of the agreement, citing attorney-client privilege, but it did provide an outline.
The agreement states immediate and long-term remedies for problems that operating the line might cause. For example, it outlines if and when the Met Council will pay the full cost of replacing research equipment, versus when the Met Council and the university would split such a cost.
The agreement also calls for an "expert panel" to resolve disputes that might arise.
Central Corridor project officials are hoping that a funding agreement with the FTA will be reached by the end of the year, but it could carry into 2011.
Construction on the 11-mile line between St. Paul and Minneapolis has already begun, and service is expected to begin in 2014.
JENNA ROSS, CHRIS HAVENS