Wednesday, March 03, 2010

MPR Vs. Minneapolis!

Minnesota Public Radio (MPR) and the Minneapolis City Council are having a bit of a spat. Admirably, the Twin Cities Metropolitan Council is looking forward and making a better mass transit system to lighten the burden on their clogged roads. But like any rail or road project, there is always some contention on what path it should take in and around the city. It has actually come to the point where MPR has sued the Metropolitan Council.

The problem is that the board has approved a route for the light-rail line that would run trains right past the radio station headquarters in St. Paul. This specific train route is part of their Central Corridor Light Rail Transit project (CCLRT ). It will connect downtown St Paul and downtown Minneapolis. the track is to be 11 miles long at a cost of $941 million. Needless to say, the city has planned to shell out big bucks on this.

This is exceedigly bad for MPR. Trains are so powerful and so heavy that they conduct physical vibrations right through the ground. This isn't a big deal for some businesses. But it is a big deal with the on-air light is on. This is why in 2009 the Met Council made an agreement to take steps to reduce noise and vibrations from city trains. In fact, they signed the CCLRT Mitigation Agreement on April 8, 2009. It's a binding contract with a lot on the line for MPR. A passing subway train can measure 95 decibels, and can shake your furniture so bad that you cant read a newspaper.

What they're fighting over is a choice of vibration muffling mechanism. MPR wants the city to go with a steel spring mechanism. The committee is more focused on the budget and favors a less expensive and less effective rubber pad. There is some irony here as radio station often suffer their own NIMBY woes over tower proposed locations. But this isn't an aesthetic argument. radio is all audio. If you damage that, you damage the core of what they are. This is currently raging and I'll keep you all up to date.