Final eastern section of Gold Line will be rerouted
Woodbury may have a longer section of the Gateway Corridor bus rapid transit project’s eventual route, thanks to a decision earlier this month by the Lake Elmo City Council.
Back on Jan. 5, the Lake Elmo City Council voted 3-2 against allowing a section of Gateway’s locally preferred alternative (LPA) route to be constructed within its city limits. In doing so, neighboring officials effectively put an end to the preferred route’s development from Inwood Avenue (aka County Road 13) east to Keats Avenue, along Lake Elmo’s Hudson Drive.
It also causes Gateway Corridor Commission members to look for a new location for the route’s easternmost transit station, as the original LPA route ended at a proposed site along Manning Avenue in Lake Elmo.
The move sets the project back by about three months, Washington County Senior Planner Lyssa Leitner said. In the weeks since Lake Elmo’s decision, the Gateway Corridor Commission has met a couple of times and already has a plan in place.
In developing the proposed LPA routes, the Gateway Corridor Commission looked at several different possible routes, Leitner said. The chosen route through Lake Elmo was one of those routes, but it was not the only route.
“There were ones that were entirely in Lake Elmo, and ones that were entirely in Woodbury,” she said. “The locally preferred alternative that was selected was a little of both.”
One of the routes under consideration now, Washington County Transit and Planning Manager Jan Lucke said, is a realignment that brings more of the Gateway Corridor through Woodbury. The plan would include bringing the bus rapid transit line across a bridge between Interstate 694 and Radio Drive (aka County Road 13).
For its part, the Woodbury City Council did approve the original LPA route back in December, on a 4-1 vote. The route did not affect any of the traffic patterns at Radio or Woodbury drives, the busiest roadways in both Woodbury and Washington County.
It’s too early, Lucke said, to say for sure what the route will look like if more of it is shifted over in Woodbury.
“It’s likely that Woodbury might want to look at several alignment variations. We will wait for their direction on that,” she said.
The change in plans means the scope of the draft environmental impact statement process, now under way, will have to be reworked a bit, as well.
The Washington County Board of Commissioners will get an update on the project at a workshop on Feb. 2.
District 5 Commissioner Lisa Weik, who also serves as chairman of the Gateway Corridor Commission, said Lake Elmo’s decision to reject the first LPA route is “a manageable development.”
“The other cities along the line, the two counties involved, are still very committed,” she said. “Sure, there was some disappointment, but we still need to move on. This is all just part of the process for these kinds of projects.
Communication is crucial
The Washington County Regional Railroad Authority held a workshop following the Washington County Board of Commissioners meeting Jan. 26, to review a communication contract for the Gateway project.
The WCRRA put out a request for proposals in October for a communications company to provide strategic communications for the Gateway Corridor. Of the eight proposals received, MZA+Co was selected by the Gateway Corridor Commission. Commissioners, acting as the WCRRA, are expected to approve a contract at the Feb. 2 meeting.
“Now, more than ever, it’s important to engage in public outreach,” Lucke told commissioners.
The contract with MZA+Co is for one year, and is set for an end date of Feb. 28, 2017.