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One month before new light rail line rolls, Met Council tweaking timeliness

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Light rail trains are scheduled to start traveling between the Twin Cities' downtowns in one month. MPR News reports there are still some adjustments to make if those trains are going to run on time.

Test trains are already operating on the Green Line, which runs between Union Depot in St. Paul and Target Field in Minneapolis. While the Metropolitan Council bills the end-to-end trip as a 40 minute ride, MPR timed a handful of trains on Tuesday and found they were taking more than an hour.

It's too soon to ring any alarm bells, though. Equipment that allows the trains to communicate with the traffic signals on the streets they're crossing is only now being installed, the Met Council's Mark Fuhrmann explains to MPR. "And every day, we have staff out there who are observing and continuing to tweak those traffic signals to give the train more priority as it moves up and down the Green Line," Fuhrmann says.

Speaking of MPR, another issue to be resolved by opening day involves the noise and vibrations the rail line is causing at the St. Paul recording studios of MPR and its parent company, American Public Media. An executive with the radio network told the Star Tribune in April “The floor is vibrating, the ceiling is shaking, the structure is making noise, and that affects the recordings.”

MPR and the Met Council tell the newspaper they're working on solutions to keep down the noise, some of which comes not from the trains but from other traffic clattering over the tracks.

Meanwhile, the time left to gather data for before-and-after studies of the effect of the Green Line is drawing to a close.

The Pioneer Press covers the latest report from the Big Picture Project, an effort to track changes along the 11-mile line over a decade. The Big Picture is now in its third year and its new progress report looks at changes in the housing market.

The Pioneer Press says the numbers show both population and rents along the line are rising. Wilder Research, which compiled much of the data, is pushing for more investments in affordable housing near the stations.

An article published by The Atlantic on Tuesday looks at whether rapidly rising rents are a byproduct of new mass transit. As Boston extends a subway line further into a suburban area, a planning agency there has forecast rent increases of up to 67 percent.

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