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Preferred Gateway Corridor route selected
The Gateway Corridor Policy Advisory Committee has identified a more specific route for a proposed bus rapid transit line traveling between downtown St. Paul and Woodbury.
Committee members approved a resolution July 24 to recommend the BRT route follow a locally preferred alternative: a dedicated guideway covering a 12-mile stretch along Interstate 94 and Hudson Road.
The preferred route for BRT travels north of I-94 to Lake Elmo Avenue, where it crosses over to the south side of the freeway into Woodbury and finishes at Manning Avenue. Buses would stop at 11 stations along the route.
Selecting an LPA is a critical step in pursuing federal funding to help pay for the estimated $450 million project. The Policy Advisory Committee is made up of local government officials, key partnering agencies, and businesses and education interests along the Gateway Corridor.
Woodbury Mayor and PAC member Mary Giuliani said Gateway Corridor member cities and railroad authorities from Washington and Ramsey counties would review the LPA over the next few months. The committee hopes to have the LPA included in the Metropolitan Council’s 2040 Transportation Policy Plan that is scheduled for completion by year’s end.
The committee will make a draft environmental impact statement in 2015. Then the development process will continue with two years of project development and another two years of engineering prior to any construction. Construction is expected to take another three years. The soonest BRT would be up and running along the corridor would be 2022.
Crowd likes buses, wants more routes
PAC members held a public hearing at the Conway Recreation Center on St. Paul’s East Side Aug. 7 to discuss the LPA and gather feedback from residents.
Most speakers supported BRT, but many argued for more feeder and express bus routes, which they said would serve whole communities rather than select areas abutting I-94. Several suggested BRT should have regular buses running around the clock for swing shift workers.
SRF Consulting deputy project manager Beth Bartz said the BRT line on the completed Gateway Corridor would connect well with other bus lines and the two existing light rail lines. She noted that the service would need to be used all day, not just at prime commuting hours, to be considered successful.
“A key for Gateway Corridor service is all-day bi-directional service every 15 minutes or less. It would not be dependent on a handful of runs in the morning and a handful of runs in the afternoon.”
-- Joshua Nielsen