County to request bonding for Gateway, Red Rock
A few months ahead of the 2014 legislative session, local officials are lining up state bond requests for two large transit projects.
A $5 million request to fund the Gateway Corridor and another $1 million for the Red Rock Corridor are part of Washington County’s legislative agenda this year.
County officials tried to get $1 million in both 2012 and 2013 legislative sessions, but didn’t receive any state funds for the Gateway Corridor.
This time the request is for $5 million to be paid out in 2015 and 2016.
County engineer Wayne Sandberg said the state bonds would pay for the engineering analysis and application to seek federal transit administrative funds.
So far the Gateway Corridor Commission completed an alternative analysis to examine ridership, alignment and costs of a future transitway on the Interstate 94 corridor. The project is currently undergoing an environmental analysis.
Studies concluded that a dedicated bus rapid transit (BRT) or light rail transit (LRT) would work best for the corridor.
The $5 million bond request would serve as a down payment on the state’s 10 percent overall share of the investment in the Gateway Corridor, according to the county’s proposal.
The Red Rock Corridor project, on the other hand, is a little earlier in the planning process and the county’s request for bond funding would pay for the environmental analysis portion of the planning.
The corridor, a congested Highway 61, is in need of additional transportation options from Hastings to Minneapolis and St. Paul, county engineers say.
An alternative analysis for Red Rock was completed in 2007 and recommended expanding bus service, increasing bus frequency and providing additional park and ride facilities. Further studies showed a commuter rail line would be beneficial long-term. The study is being updated and will be completed by the end of this year. It may show BRT as a viable alternative, according to the plans. The county received $1.2 in state bond funding in 2011 for the Newport Transit Station, a critical stop on the Red Rock Corridor, currently under construction.
This time around, the $1 million would pay for additional planning and application to seek federal transit funds.