County taps transportation kitty

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A $135,000 grant from the Counties Transit Improvement Board will pay for the planning of two proposed transit station areas in Cottage Grove and one in St. Paul Park.

At their Oct. 18 meeting, the Washington County Board of Commissioners adopted a resolution requesting the funds from CTIB, a joint-powers board comprising Anoka, Dakota, Hennepin, Ramsey and Washington counties.

The transit areas will be part of the Red Rock transit corridor, a 30-mile bus-rapid transit route that will run in both directions from Hastings to Union Depot in St. Paul.

"That is to help guide the transit oriented development that will allow us to kind of build on this line," Commissioner Karla Bigham of Cottage Grove said. "It's planning dollars for transit-oriented development and how we can work with our local partners."

The five counties share the revenue from a quarter-cent sales tax and a $20 motor vehicle sales tax. The money is disbursed in the form of annual capital and operating grants to fund transitway projects.

Washington County is guaranteed to receive 1 percent of total revenue collected in 2009 through 2010, and 3 percent of total revenue collected in 2011 through 2013. The county must provide a 10 percent local match for those expenditures.

With a transit station and parking lot already established in Newport, it made sense to focus on the potential of Cottage Grove and St. Paul Park, said Hally Turner, a planner at the Department of Public Works.

"We're trying to focus on the cities that present the greatest opportunity," she said.

The board also voted to request $225,000 from CTIB for project development in the Gateway Corridor.