Not Working on the Railroad

Tom Stransky is arguably the most ardent foe of bringing light rail to St. Paul. For at least four years, the owner of Midway Used and Rare Books has plastered the windows of his storefront with anti-LRT placards.

But recently the signs have disappeared from Stransky's bookstore at the busy intersection of University and Snelling Avenues. "To tell you the truth we kind of gave up," says Stransky, who's owned the store since 1980. "You can't fight City Hall. That's the honest truth."

The bookstore owner says that he lost all hope after last fall's elections, when voters endorsed a ballot measure mandating that all motor-vehicle sales-tax revenue be devoted to transit and highways starting in 2011. At least 40 percent of that money must be directed towards public transit.

Stransky is convinced that construction of the light-rail line will ultimately result in the death of small businesses along University Avenue, including his own. The only upside, he notes, is that he owns the building. "They're going to have to pay me for it."