St. Paul, Minn. (January 28, 2011) – The Asian Economic Development Association says community organizations and businesses are welcoming last week’s decision of U.S. Federal Court Judge for the Minnesota District Donovan Frank, in requiring additional measures to protect small businesses from losses caused by the planned Central Corridor light rail line.
“This is a victory for all communities,” said Va-Megn Thoj, director of the nonprofit AEDA. “It vindicates what small businesses have been saying for years: that the Met Council has ignored the costs this project will impose on our neighborhoods.”
In 2009, AEDA assisted a group of businesses to file a separate civil rights complaint with the Federal Transit Administration objecting to the deficiencies of the light rail plan. The group, Concerned Asian Business Owners, filed its complaint and joined in support of the Rondo community’s charges and emphasized the threat of economic loss.
The FTA actions have been temporarily suspended pending the federal court decision.
“AEDA and CABO congratulate the leadership of the Rondo community on this issue,” said Thoj. “We now look forward to working together to discuss with the Met Council and FTA on plans to prevent business losses during light rail construction and to strengthen the neighboring communities in the long term.”
In the meantime, small businesses plan to press forward with their civil rights complaint.
“The judge’s order strengthens our pending complaint with FTA,” said Gen Fujioka, attorney for AEDA and CABO. “The court is giving Met Council a second chance to adopt a plan to protect small businesses. If it fails to do so then FTA must reconsider what is presently a fatally flawed project.”
The mission of the Asian Economic Development Association is to cultivate vibrant, diverse communities by creating economic opportunities. We envision thriving, sustainable multicultural neighborhoods with strong community leadership and economic justice.
Metropolitan Council Chair Susan Haigh issued a statement in response to the federal court ruling, saying the Met Council is 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,” said Haigh. “The remaining issue is the adequacy of our analysis of the short-term impact of LRT construction on certain businesses in the corridor.”
Haigh said the Council is also pleased that the court acknowledged the “significant public benefit” of the Central Corridor project.
“We will continue to work closely with our project partners and community groups as we move forward toward the successful completion of this project,” she added.
The Central Corridor Light Rail Transit Project (www.centralcorridor.org) will link downtown St. Paul and downtown Minneapolis along Washington and University avenues via the state Capitol and the University of Minnesota. Construction began in late 2010 on the planned 11-mile Central Corridor line, and service will begin in 2014.
The line will connect with the Hiawatha LRT line at the Metrodome station in Minneapolis and the Northstar commuter rail line at the new Target Field Station.
The project is poised to create thousands of jobs now that the federal government has forwarded the Full Funding Grant Agreement to Congress.
The largest public works project in state history will require hundreds of construction and management jobs a year through 2013. Job seekers may register their qualifications with www.LRTWorks.org, a website with a purpose of helping contractors meet goals to hire minorities and women.
The Asian Economic Development Association is located at 712 University Ave W, Suite 105, St. Paul, MN 55104. Call 651-222-7798 and visit online at www.aeda-mn.org.