Light rail option scrapped for Gateway Corridor
The most costly remaining transit option for the Gateway Corridor project was jettisoned Thursday by a key panel.
Gateway Corridor Commission members moved forward two transit plans – bus-rapid transit and a managed lane option – but scrapped light-rail transit.
According to a resolution passed by the commission, the final dagger for LRT was its $950 million price tag, which came without an appreciable boost in ridership when compared to BRT.
BRT plans call for a $400 million dedicated bus guideway running between Manning Avenue in Woodbury to St. Paul’s Union Depot.
All momentum appeared to be behind BRT at Thursday’s Gateway Corridor Commission meeting, though commissioners – acting on a recommendation from its policy advisory committee – also advanced a managed lane plan ahead for the next phase of the project, which involves environmental study.
The managed lane option, which would create a tollway down the center median of Interstate 94 for Gateway buses and passenger vehicles, was required to be studied by federal transportation officials earlier this year. Gateway Corridor officials had previously scrapped the managed lane for various reasons, including its inability to qualify for significant federal grant funding.
Woodbury Mayor Mary Giuliani Stephens, who chairs the policy committee, said the managed lane option is being carried through to environmental study in order to satisfy the Federal Transportation Administration’s request. Without it as part of the process, the administration might not sign off on the commission’s final plans, she said Thursday.
Weik suggested that the rise in Gateway’s national presence, which has included a designation for procedural fast-tracking by the White House, could benefit the process. She said Gateway’s now-heightened stature on the national scene could give federal transportation officials cause to take a closer look at the commission’s logic and reasoning for originally scrapping the managed lane during its alternatives analysis process.
“Now we’ve got the full attention of the national government,” Weik said at the meeting.