Woodbury resident Joe Weyer recently returned from a trip to Chicago, a city renowned for its public transportation system.
“We rode everywhere,” he said. “That’s the way it should be.”
Weyer was among those who attended an open house Tuesday about future transit options along Interstate 94. The meeting was part of the process for the Gateway Corridor study, which is examining the possibilities—from “no build” to buses to light rail—along the stretch of I-94 from Eau Claire, Wis., to Minneapolis.
Area transportation officials and Gateway Corridor Commission members were at the open house to outline the eight alternatives now under consideration and gather feedback from residents, said Washington County Traffic Engineer Ted Schoenecker.
For a detailed description of the transit options, click here.
Weyer, who works in Roseville, said he’s been keeping tabs on the plans and would like to see mass transit improved in the east metro, where it’s been “long ignored.”
“It’s a much more efficient way of moving people,” he said, adding that he would like to see light rail come through Woodbury.
Congestion is the driving force behind the study, officials said during a presentation at City Hall. There will be 30,000 more jobs and a 30 percent population increase along the corridor over the next two decades, and that will only exacerbate the traffic problems.
Connie Halfpenny, of Woodbury, said the area is ready for improved mass transit.
“Traffic is getting worse and worse,” she said.
Halfpenny used to live in a suburb of Boston. “I always took the train,” she said.
She said she didn’t favor any of the particular alternatives presented Tuesday, but believes mass transit has to be part of the Woodbury area’s future.
“You can only make the roads so wide,” Halfpenny said.
The alternatives have been expanded from seven to eight over the past few months, and officials have refined the options, including adding potential station locations, Schoenecker said. Those could be walk-up spots, park and rides or locations that connect with neighborhoods.
Still, the Gateway Corridor Commission is hoping to hear back from residents on the plans, which are required should a request for federal funding ever be made for transit improvements along I-94. To comment on the plans, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Washington County Board recently met with area lawmakers, who seemed to favor buses to light rail, mainly citing the fact that buses are less costly and can change more easily than rail should the population shift.
Those factors will be weighed once the Alternative Analysis Study comes back, Schoenecker said, and officials should have more accurate estimates of costs for each option next spring.
In the meantime, he said it would be a “rigorous, open, transparent process.”