A new light-rail line nearing completion in Minnesota is having a big effect on research at the nearby University of Minnesota.
Despite working with the city's Metropolitan Council and ensuring the builders took measures to reduce vibrations from the Central Corridor light rail line that could skew research results, a couple of the school's labs have had to be moved because of the sensitivity of their equipment.
Moving one of the university's laser labs from the school's Kolthoff Hall to Smith Hall cost $860,000 while its Minnesota Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (MNMR) Facility took a year and $25 million to pull up stakes from Nils Hasselmo Hall, close to the Central Corridor light rail tracks, and be re-established in the Mayo Memorial Building.
While those costs were partly covered by the city, if any more labs need to be moved, the university will have to foot the bill.
“The most frustrating thing was proving how much damage the light rail might do to our research,” MNMR director Gianluigi Veglia told the Minnesota Daily about the situation. “It’s almost been like a forensic investigation.”
The school has been looking into how exactly the light rail system would affect research since 2006.
Though earlier tests have shown the moved labs will be far enough away to be protected by vibrations from trains, that won't be certain until further tests, scheduled to begin this week, are completed in September. Electromagnetic interference and vibration levels will be measured in nine buildings around Washington Avenue Southeast as the light rail trains are run for a few hours each night.
Getting the most accurate results from those tests will be a challenge and city staff will need to restrict moving metal objects, use of electronics, elevators, and pedestrian traffic in the location to ensure that accuracy.
“These tests are really sensitive,” said Leslie Krueger, University Services chief of staff, to the Minnesota Daily. “We want to have the quietest environment possible to get the most detailed data.”
- With files from the Minnesota Daily