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Five Things You Might Not Know About The Gateway Corridor

A study is under way to look at possibilities for rail and bus transit along Interstate 94 from St. Paul to Wisconsin.

Interstate 94 could be congested from downtown St. Paul to Manning Avenue by 2030 if nothing is done to expand capacity or add transit options to the Gateway Corridor, according to a Washington County transportation official.

But cities along the corridor are already working together to , and by spring the commission expects to have chosen one preferred transit mode and route for the area, Washington County Senior Transportation Planner Andy Gitzlaff told the Oakdale City Council at a Jan. 10 workshop.

Possible modes being considered include bus rapid transit, express bus service, light rail, commuter rail and a toll lane similar to the existing MnPASS lanes. Routes could include stations near 3M, Sun Ray Shopping Center, The Oaks Business Park and Ideal Avenue.

See a previous article for more details on the routes and modes of transit being considered along the Gateway Corridor.

But even if you’re familiar with the project, here are a few things you might not know:

More Modes Were Considered

The Gateway Corridor Commission considered additional modes of transit before narrowing the choices down to the current field of options, said Stephanie Eiler, project manager at CH2M Hill. They considered heavy rail, which is used in Washington D.C., Chicago and Los Angeles, she said. They also considered automated guideway transit, which is used in Vancouver, she said.

Infrastructure Project? Maybe Not

One of the options being considered—Option 2—would require no major infrastructure improvements, Eiler said. Under that option, express bus service would be extended into Wisconsin, with additional park and ride stations, she said.

The Lake is in the Way

To fit lanes of roadway for bus rapid transit, or track for light rail in along Hudson Road in Landfall, putting pillars into Tanner’s Lake for a bridge would be necessary, Eiler said. “This is probably our major environmental issue in the corridor,” she said.

More Feeder Buses

All the plans include adding new feeder bus routes in Oakdale to help people get to the transit stations without driving, Eiler said.

Adding Lanes Not Considered

Other than the possibility of adding a MnPASS-like toll lane, just adding lanes of traffic to Interstate 94 is not being studied, Eiler said. The decision to look at transit rather than traffic lanes was made by the Met Council, she said, but if they did want to look at regular lanes they couldn’t just add an option to their current study, which is a transit study under the Federal Transit Administration guidelines. They’d have to do a separate highway study under the Federal Highway Administration, she said.

STW January 15, 2012 at 05:19 PM
I hope they don't plan on taking a existing lane on 94 away for a MnPASS lane or any other additional modes of transportation. That would not be good. Anybody that drives 35w south of Downtown Minneapolis would know, and felt the pain of driving that thruway during a rush hour. Adding lane(s) for whatever future mode of transportation would be necessary to relieve future congestion.

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