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Citizen activist Norann Dillon will be the keynote speaker at a May 16 transit forum.

Gateway project to be focus of Woodbury transit forum

News Woodbury,Minnesota 55125 http://www.woodburybulletin.com/sites/default/files/styles/square_300/public/fieldimages/41/0613/dillonweb.jpg?itok=6YZfZw5f
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Gateway project to be focus of Woodbury transit forum
Woodbury Minnesota 8420 City Centre Drive 55125

When Bob Tatreau looks into his crystal ball, he doesn't like the look of things -- at least not when it comes to transportation in the east metro.

He and friend Steve Ellenwood closely follow the progress of the Gateway Corridor project that's slated to bring high-speed transit through the east metro, including Woodbury. Neither man believes the project is necessary, and they're hoping that an event this week at Central Park will convince others to take a similarly critical look.

The two Woodbury residents who consider themselves "political associates," organized the Woodbury Citizens Transportation Forum.

The forum, which runs from 6-8 p.m., Thursday, May 16, in Central Park's Valley Creek Room B, will take aim at the Gateway project, a plan that seeks to build a dedicated transitway parallel to Interstate 94 where passengers would ride either high-speed buses or light rail between Woodbury and Minneapolis.

"I hope the people of Woodbury realize that we don't need this light rail stuff," Tatreau said. "We don't even need BRT (bus-rapid transit)."

Headlining the forum will be keynote speaker Norann Dillon, a former GOP legislative candidate turned citizen activist.

She said she'll talk about the Gateway project as it relates to other light rail efforts around the Twin Cities.

"I honestly think that pursuing it could lead this region to bankruptcy," Dillon said. "It will siphon money from other priorities."

She said she hopes to spur attendees to become similarly skeptical of transit projects and to question decision makers along the way.

If successful, the forum will lead to local grassroots opposition to the Gateway project, Tatreau said.

"People will understand that we don't need it and it's going to be a terrible destruction," he said.

Tatreau said he supports what planners have coined the "no build" option -- with a twist. He supports what he calls a "smart build" that would involve more traffic lanes and additional buses.

Though the forum is likely to carry opposition to the Gateway project, Tatreau noted that the meeting is open to anyone interested in the project. "We're not trying to keep anyone out," he said.

Mike Longaecker
Mike Longaecker is the regional public safety reporter for RiverTown Multimedia. His coverage area spans St. Croix and Pierce counties. Longaecker served from 2011-2015 as editor of the Woodbury Bulletin. A University of Wisconsin-River Falls graduate, Longaecker previously reported for the Red Wing Republican Eagle and for the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau. You can follow him on Twitter at @Longaecker
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