Central Corridor Light Rail, when it opens, will be a triumph of civic cooperation and long-term thinking. Creating this kind of infrastructure is never easy (they were nutting out details of a more modest light rail line in Seattle in the mid-90s; that line finally opens this year). Neighborhood advocates, businesses on University, the U of M and others have compromised their narrow interests (willingly and not) so that we might have an efficient link between downtowns.
So when I heard Bill Kling, president of Minnesota Public Radio, use taxpayer-supported airwaves to encourage people to derail the agreed upon LRT route on his organization’s behalf—long after the deadline for these objections—I was pissed. As of yesterday, MPR’s ultimatum has managed to delay the project groundbreaking from spring 2010 to late summer. Today’s Strib makes it sound like MPR is compromising (they won’t continue to push for a reroute for now, just more intensive noise mitigation), but the damage is done. The delay they’ve wrought could seriously hurt the project, which depends on federal funds that may go away if the timing changes.
I realized long ago that our listener-supported NPR affiliate doesn’t get who—or at whose discretion—it serves. MPR is the noise problem that needs mitigation.