Area residents, city staff and elected officials were at an open house Thursday to learn about and give feedback on the seven options being considered for future transit routes along Interstate 94 from Minneapolis to Eau Claire, Wis.
Among the options are bus rapid transit (a step up from express bus service in which buses sometimes have their own specially built lanes) and light-rail transit routes that would travel along Hudson Road in Woodbury.
Click for an explanation of all the route options being considered.
Woodbury leaders said they didn’t have a preferred route at this time, but that they were glad that plans are being made to improve transportation along the corridor.
The Woodbury Chamber of Commerce is supportive of the East Metro coming together to be proactive in order to get in line for federal funding of transportation in the future, said chair Mark Streed.
“There’s a tiger in the West Metro that’s being fed time and time again, and we’ve been going hungry for a long time,” Streed said. “Now it’s our turn to try to catch up, get our fair share.”
Woodbury Chamber of Commerce member Greg Watson of ARC Builders said his route preference will be based on the results of a study currently underway to evaluate the different options.
“Part of the whole process is being able to make reasonable, informed decisions that fit the criteria of the corridor as it exists and get us through the population trends we’re going to be dealing with in 2020 and 2030,” he said. “We just can’t be at the crossroads in 2020 and go ‘Oh my goodness, I can’t get to work.’”
Woodbury Mayor Mary Giuliani Stephens said she hasn’t heard any opinions from residents yet about the proposed transit routes, but the city has gotten questions about whether the current express bus service from Woodbury to Minneapolis will keep operating.
She said the city tried to get the word out about the open house so that residents could attend and learn about the plans.
One Woodbury resident in attendance, Karen Rodricks, said she is glad transportation planners are looking at options other than expanding highways to improve transportation.
“If I had my wish I’d put in (light rail transit) to Hudson, but I don’t think that’s possible, so I’d say BRT, bus rapid transit, would be the next alternative,” she said.
In a presentation to the group, Gateway Corridor consultant Stephanie Eiler said plans for transit in the corridor are still very early in the process.
““We’re nowhere near a decision,” she said. “The bulldozers are not ready to go and it’s going to be quite awhile before we figure out what we want to do and how we want to pay for it and, ‘Do we want to do it?’”