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U comments on central corridor LRT alignment

February 26, 2007

On February 27, the Metropolitan Council will vote on the route alignment for the Central Corridor light rail transit (CCLRT) line. Kathleen O'Brien, the University's vice president for University Services, released the following statement on the alignment:

"The University of Minnesota is truly a transit oriented community with two-thirds of its commuters using bus, carpool, or walking options. Over the last 20 years, the University has successfully developed an integrated transportation system that serves all members of the university community, including more than 20,000 students and 2,000 faculty and staff who utilize the university-subsidized mass transit programs.

"The University alone is expected to generate one-third of the daily riders on the Central Corridor light rail transit line. Clearly, the University and the Twin Cities need a metropolitan transit system that is reliable, affordable, convenient, and safe.

"The University's preferred alternatives have been the Northern Alignment and a tunnel under Washington Avenue. Recognizing the schedule and financial constraints on the CCLRT project, the University of Minnesota will continue the Northern Alignment study and explore the design and planning of a Washington Avenue alignment with a pedestrian-only mall and no traffic.

"Creating a pedestrian mall on the University's East Bank campus with traffic diverted from Washington Avenue between the east end of the Washington Avenue Bridge and Walnut Street would require significant mitigations. Specific mitigations must be analyzed and a plan developed that identifies both reliable cost estimates and funding sources, and that is supported by the University, the City of Minneapolis, Hennepin County, and the University neighborhoods. In addition, the design and quality of the Washington Avenue mall must result in a vibrant urban environment.

"The University is committed to work with our CCLRT partners on this project to address issues and lay a sound foundation for the project."