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County may get help for I-94 corridor transit study funding

Washington County got some good news from Washington D.C. this past week.

Congresswoman Betty McCollum (DFL-St. Paul) informed county officials that her office is submitting a request for $4 million in federal funding for a planned I-94 corridor transit alternatives study.

The funds requested would be generated out of the U.S. House 2010 fiscal appropriations bill.

Late last year the county board voted to allocate nearly $554,000 of revenue it received from a five-county quarter-cent sales tax increase to the proposed project, which county officials say will help study the future transit options for the I-94 corridor in the east metro.

Ramsey County is also planning to allocate at least a half million dollars to the study, which has largely been a Washington County-spurred effort.

Those funds, said Washington County planning manager Ted Schoenecker, could be used as the local match necessary to acquire federal funding for such a study.

"Where this really sets us is that completion of the alternatives analysis and this environmental assessment basically makes this corridor (study) ready to move into preliminary engineering, preliminary design," Schoenecker said.

Washington County Commissioners voted 4-0 April 21 to authorize a letter of support for McCollum's appropriations request. Commissioner Myra Peterson was absent.

Earlier this year, Washington County helped organize and create an I-94 corridor joint powers board, made up of Washington and Ramsey counties and municipalities along the corridor east of St. Paul.