Businesses Speak Out On Central Corridor LRT

By John Lauritsen, WCCO-TV

ST. PAUL (WCCO) — Work is underway on Metro Transit’s Central Corridor light rail line, which is set to connect downtown Minneapolis with downtown St. Paul.

Right now, University Avenue is being torn up in several spots to make room for the line. From Eustis to Vandalia, utility crews are doing some of the early work.

Some business owners argue that the work creating a mess for their businesses, saying the construction and ensuing traffic mess is threatening their livelihoods.

They don’t feel the Metropolitan Council is serious about helping them, and they feel that light rail could mean the end for many small businesses along University.

“Let’s have a moment of silence for the businesses that have been harmed already, and the businesses that will be harmed if nothing changes,” said one speaker at the “Justice for University Avenue” rally, which took place outside a forum the Metropolitan Council held Thursday morning.

Business owners were invited to give feedback on how the light rail construction will impact them. The council’s town hall forum drew a number of business owners.

The council says they are providing business resources and want to keep the disruption to a minimum, but many feel that’s not enough.

“The backs of businesses are going to carry the load. It’s an unfair project that doesn’t really fit. They are shoe-horning this in here. Sidewalks will be cut down to a minimum and traffic will be right next to the sidewalks,” said Jack McCann of the University Avenue Betterment Association.

The council says they are offering loans, up to $10,000 in some cases.

The LRT line is so supposed to be up and running by 2014, so that means roughly three years of construction on University Avenue is just getting underway.

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