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Woodbury City Council gets update on Gateway Corridor study

Woodbury traffic. Bulletin file photo by Scott Wente.

Two years ago, the Gateway Corridor was just a blank white line on a map of the regional transportation system.

Woodbury city officials got a first glance at what the project looks like at a council workshop Wednesday, Sept. 19, now that a few options have been studied in detail. The line is now a candy stripe, one step closer to becoming a completed, when it will be a solid red line.

Washington County helped fund the extension of the study of transit alternatives for the Gateway Corridor along Interstate 94 through Woodbury that offered a more detailed engineering and cost analysis.

The project is aimed at improving mobility and providing cost-effective transit options for area commuters.

Washington County Senior Planner Andy Gitzlaff said one of the options that has been eliminated was a commuter rail from Minneapolis to Eau Claire, Wis.

An option that would run transit on White Bear Avenue and back onto Hudson Road wasn't feasible either, he added.

The highly ranked alternatives, however, were a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) along Hudson Road and I-94 that would operate in an exclusive bus-only lane from St. Paul to the vicinity of Manning Avenue in Woodbury.

Second to that is a BRT managed lane similar to the MnPass lanes recently implemented in regional freeways between St. Paul and the St. Croix River Bridge.

The managed lane option would allow carpoolers and those who pay tolls to use it as well.

Both of those options would include a Landfall station and better access to the Sun Ray shopping center and 3M, Gitzlaff said.

One of the low ranked options was a Light Rail Transit (LRT) system that would run along St. Paul streets and Hudson Road.

But another LRT alternative that was highly ranked would run along Hudson Road/ I-94.

As the options were studied, transportation officials decided to modify the alignment of the highly ranked BRT and LRT and shifted them to run on the south side of I-94 east of the 494/694 interchange for better economic development and more accessible stations.

Along with transportation experts, the Gateway Corridor Commission - a group of elected officials from communities along the St. Paul-to-western-Wisconsin transit route - has been studying which mass transit mode would best suit east metro commuters.

The next meeting will be held at 3:30 p.m. where the Gateway Corridor Commission is expected to approve overall rankings and recommend alternatives to be carried forward.

A public comment period will be held in October and November, where residents and commuters will have an opportunity to weigh in on the options.

By Nov. 9, the Gateway Corridor Commission is expected to approve a final alternative selection report.

Riham Feshir
Riham Feshir is a reporter and photographer for the Woodbury Bulletin. Her coverage includes Woodbury City Hall, Washington County Board of Commissioners and business news.  Follow Riham on Twitter @RihamFeshir for the latest updates.