MPR: Not On My Street! (Part I)

It’s gotten a lot of press lately: Minnesota Public Radio seems set to take the Central Corridor – the new light rail line set to connect the two downtowns via the U of M, University Avenue and the Capitol area – to court over the disruption the high-frequency noise and low-frequency vibration could cause their recording and production operations.

MPR posts its case here.

On the one hand, it’s easy – or, to put it in the possibly-more-apt pseudo-latin, “facile” – to ascribe the whole thing to the “limousine liberalism” of Bill Kling, Garrison Keillor and MPR’s well-heeled clientele; “silent acquiescence to big-government initiatives for ye, but not for we”. 

On the other hand, you will scour their website in vain for any mention of opposition to the Central Corridor over…

  • the horrible effect the Central Corridor have on traffic and noise in the Midway,
  • the crushing economic impact it’ll have on the Southeast Asian business community in Frogtown, which has been a huge, if low-key, triumph of the free market in Saint Paul in the time since I’ve lived here,
  • the cost of refitting the Washington Avenue Bridge at the U of M to carry the added weight of the LRT line,
  • the overarching fact that with its stops every mile (rather than every few blocks) and fast rolling stock designed to stop only at large, purpose-built stops (just like the Hiawatha Line), the LRT will supplant the 50 Express bus, rather than the slow, clunky, traffic-clogging 16 line between the downtowns – meaning that it’ll not only barely scratch traffic, and that…
  • …as such, it will serve primarily inter-Twin-City rather than local travel, and so might have been vastly better-served by a trolley line or other more utilitarian but less-“sexy” installation.
  • It will require immense expense to solve a number of civil engineering challenges in downtown Saint Paul…

…or other such plebeian concerns. Indeed, it seems to be all about their studios. Which may be legally appropriate but, given their support for all the other aspects of the Central Corridor, ethically obtuse.

That being said, I’ll try to stay away from some of the stereotypical (albeit sometimes fully appropriate) class-baiting that some of MPR’s conservative critics have employed in criticizing the network’s response to the LRT line.

I said “try”.

Tomorrow: Sound Engineering, Unsound Planning.

Thursday: Civil Engineering, Uncivil Project.

Friday:  Ethics, Politics and other difficult stuff.

6 thoughts on “MPR: Not On My Street! (Part I)

  1. I’ve ridden and been alongside the Hiawatha line many times and don’t feel the viberations. Perhaps the wienies at MPR are much more sensitive then me.

  2. I use the Hiawatha Line and I’ve often wondered how the people who work alongside it in downtown, and those who live alongside it in South Minneapolis, cope with the the loud, piercing clanging of the bells (it’s supposed to be a warning, after all) every 10 minutes. I’d sure hate to have an office on 5th St, or a condo on 50th.

  3. What makes more noise, a large bus pulling away from a stop, or an electric powered light rail car?

    I think the St Paul crowd have watched the Blues Brothers movie one too many times (the apartment along the EL tracks).

  4. As I understand it (I’m not an acoustics engineer, but I’m not unacquainted with the field), one big problem is low-frequency “rumble” transmitted through the ground. The vibrations of buses are shielded from this by those nice soft rubber tires. The vibrations of trains – much heavier, transmitted through a metal-to-metal contact to the rails, which are embedded in the ground and transmit vibrations directly through the ground to building foundations.

    It’s why you can feel subways trains in NYC, or El trains in Chicago even whe you can’t hear them.

    Also, buses don’t have that high-volume clanging sound, which is required by safety regulations.

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