Suburban lawmakers try to halt Central Corridor

Those sprawling holes in the ground in downtown St. Paul would remain wide open if four Republican lawmakers from the suburbs and outstate Minnesota have their way.

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The state representatives introduced a bill today that would halt all work on the light rail line until the Metropolitan Council amends its final environmental study to reflect how construction would hurt nearby businesses. The other condition? A majority of plaintiffs in the Rondo lawsuit or a federal judge would have to sign off on the findings.

The bill’s authors are Reps. Mark Buesgens of Jordan, Bob Barrett of Shafer, Linda Runbeck of Circle Pines and Bob Gunther of Fairmont. Admittedly, this metro reporter had to get out a map to find out where these cities are — and I can tell you they’re nowhere near University Avenue in St. Paul.

The bill might be a reaction to recent developments in the business vs. light rail debate. You might recall about a month ago, Judge Donovan Frank ruled that the Met Council’s environmental-impact study was “deficient,” and ordered up a new assessment of how the project would affect businesses.

The Met Council did just that — and this week completed a study predicting businesses would experience a zero to 2.5 percent decline in revenues during the build-out. Those figures weren’t what University Avenue businesses had in mind.

And they’re apparently getting a little sympathy from lawmakers far, far away.