While U.S. District Judge Donovan W. Frank ruled January 27 that the Central Corridor Light Rail Transit construction can keep on rolling, he also admonished the Met Council to pay more attention to its impact on low income and minority populations, especially businesses. Frank said the 2,000-page environmental impact statement for the project failed to address the issue of loss of business income as a result of the LRT construction, but said this was not sufficient reason to halt the Central Corridor project. Instead, he said the inadequacies must now be addressed.
Veronica Burt, spokesperson for Rondo plaintiffs who filed the lawsuit a little more than a year ago, said in a press release that they saw the decision as “another incomplete victory in a series of concerns related to the CCLRT. Although another battle has been won, the war is not yet over as the Rondo Community will press on to insure its rendition of justice and equity is served along the Central Corridor.”
Plaintiffs’ attorney Tom DeVincke said that no decision on appeal has been made at this time, but that the plaintiffs are pleased that the court recognized the validity of their concerns and want to work with the Met Council on complying with the court’s direction to work together on resolving the issues raised in the lawsuit.
The nonprofit Asian Economic Development Association welcomed the decision. AEDA was not a party to this lawsuit, but had assisted a group of businesses in filing a civil rights complain with the Federal Transportation Administration in 2009. AEDA director Va-Megn Thoj said in a press release the court’s decision “vindicates what small businesses have been saying for years: that the Met Council has ignored the costs this project will impose on our neighborhoods.”
The FTA case has been on hold, pending the federal court decision. Attorney Gen Fujioka, who represents both AEDA and the Concerned Asian Business Owners (CABO), who filed the FTA complaint, said the judge’s order strengthens their case.
The Met Council’s official statement said it was pleased that the court acknowledged the benefits of the Central Corridor project and that:
We are encouraged by the Judge’s decision. The Council prevailed on three of the four issues before the court and the Judge declined to delay the project, concluding that the interest of the general public to keep this important project moving forward far outweighs the harm. The remaining issue is the adequacy of our analysis of the short-term impact of LRT construction on certain businesses in the corridor.
Coverage of issues and events that affect Central Corridor neighborhoods and communities is funded in part by a grant from Central Corridor Collaborative.