Can a floating concrete slab located beneath the tracks of a light rail system minimize vibration from the train to nearby buildings? The Twin Cities Metropolitan Council may find out with a floating concrete slab for portions of the Central Corridor light rail system. Original plans did not include sections of track adjacent to 17 buildings along Washington Avenue that house 80 University of Minnesota research labs.

University of Minnesota officials claim the floating slab track bed would soften the expected impact to the labs, which house research on cancer, biofuels, nanotechnology, and solar energy.

The floating slab design includes a concrete slab supported by “rubber-like or steel-coil springs,” according to a Metropolitan Council report. A concrete foundation supports the springs and fixation fasteners that attach the track to the concrete slab. Currently, the Metropolitan Council and the University of Minnesota are debating costs related to the extension of the concrete floating slab, as the extension of this system could add millions to the overall cost of the project.

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