U of M, Met Council at impasse in light rail talksby Dan Olson, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — The University of Minnesota and the Metropolitan Council are at odds over the granting of easements on university property, which are needed to plan for construction of the new Central Corridor light rail line.
Met Council chairman Peter Bell says the temporary easements the Council is seeking are for work requested by the U. Bell says the U's failure to agree to the easements could cost the project money.
"The delay as a result of not providing the temporary easement, is likely to cost us up to $1 million, and does have the potential to delay the project. Their arrogance is just really beyond belief," said Bell.
Met Council officials say construction of the new rail line will be delayed, and costs will increase, if the university doesn't act in a timely fashion to grant the easements.
University officials, meanwhile, say it has until the end of April to decide the issue.
University Vice President for Services Kathleen O'Brien says they need to have a comprehensive agreement in hand on how to address any problems caused both by construction and by operation of the line.
"If the agreement is not in place which it is not at this time granting the easement would mean that there would be construction starting in May without any of the protections embodied in the agreement," O'Brien said.
The Met Council says the university's position is arrogant and points to operation of light rail in Seattle growing out of successful negotiations there with the University of Washington.
Both the university and the Met Council are preparing to enter court ordered mediation to solve their differences.
The permanent easements affect university property officials say is valued at $6 million.
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