Gateway Corridor comments generate mixed bag
Public comments about the Gateway Corridor project were released last week with opinions on both sides of the issue that have been published in a 182-page document.
Gateway Corridor officials gathered all the written and spoken comments from various open houses over the past few months as part of a “scoping period” to get public feedback.
Comments varied from concerns about the power grid to parking, noise and vibration. Some were interested in seeing additional express bus routes added, while others suggested specific station locations to serve congested areas.
Patrick McNamara of Inver Grove Heights, who works near Rivertown Avenue and Commerce Drive in Woodbury, said there is a lack of sidewalks and pedestrian access.
“I’m concerned that the stations are places where I can’t conveniently walk to,” he said. “I would like something closer to work. I don’t think a shuttle bus would run often enough.”
Peggy Erlandson of Oakdale said a transit system is “definitely needed” because it’s hard to get around without a car.
But she was concerned about the noise, fuel-odor and the added stress to the environment.
The scoping meetings collected comments at cities along the proposed route including Oakdale, St. Paul and Woodbury.
Project opponent Bob Tatreau voiced his concerns at an April meeting at Woodbury City Hall.
The Woodbury resident said the studies currently under way don’t necessarily reflect reality or determine the effect of the project on low income and minority populations.
“The draft environmental impact studies produced must be a genuine reflection of reality, not a contrivance just so the project can go forward,” he said.
Betty Schmitz referenced the Central Corridor project that ruined businesses along University Avenue. She said she was concerned about homes on Fourth Street and Helmo Avenue in Oakdale and the fact that many neighbors weren’t aware of the meetings and opportunities for comment.
“I’m worried about those of us that do live along there,” she said. “What will happen to our homes?”
Owner of the St. Paul Harley-Davidson Tom Giannetti said he was worried about the effects of a light rail or a bus rapid transit project on the business that he grew from a $7 million endeavor to a $20 million one. He said his parking lot would be wiped out, after paying $20,000 to expand when Hudson Road was widened.
“You are now presenting the greatest threat to my business that has ever been presented in my 15 years of ownership,” he said.
Another commenter from Woodbury said the studies were a policy decision based on “flawed assumptions” including people getting out of their cars to commute.
Woodbury resident Linda Stanton was disturbed by the statistics that point to future transit serving 4 percent of the population while 96 percent are in need of pothole and road repairs to continue driving their cars.
“How many people are able to forgo their cars needed for other things like doctor’s appointments, picking up children or grocery shopping or the requirement of their work?” she said.
While many criticized the transit plan, others wrote in support of the project.
Gary Fose of Woodbury said he uses the Hiawatha Line and plans to use the Green Line when it opens this summer to avoid congested highways and parking ramps.
But he suggested the Gateway Corridor implement something other than a light rail.
“While I support Light-Rail Transit (LRT) in the long-term for the Gateway Corridor, I believe we should focus on the transit mode that is the most viable option to qualify for federal and/or state funding for the project,” he said. “Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) is likely to be the best option at this time and for the near future.”
To view full comments and the entire document, visit www.thegatewaycorridor.com and click the Transit Study tab.