Metro Transit seeks grant to fund parking ramp at Woodbury Theatre
Fluctuating gas prices, parking costs, stress-free commuting and increased transit service are all factors that reflect the growing number of Park and Ride users in Woodbury.
Therefore, Metro Transit is proposing a new parking ramp at the Woodbury 10 Theatre Park and Ride site that will double the number of spaces by 2015-16 to accommodate for anticipated growth in the next few years.
"Over each of the last four years, Metro Transit's ridership on buses and trains has exceeded 76 million and the last time that benchmark was hit was in the year 1982," said John Siqveland, Metro Transit spokesperson.
The department will submit a federal funding application this month for Congestion Mitigation Air Quality Program (CMAQ) funds to help pay for a $13 million parking ramp in Woodbury. It is part of a statewide effort to increase transit service.
The current capacity of the Park and Ride at the Woodbury 10 Theatre location is 550 with about 421 cars filling it up daily, according to Metro Transit's most recent counts.
Additionally, Woodbury's residential growth and downtown Minneapolis and St. Paul's anticipated increase in employment opportunities are other indicators of how many more users are expected to utilize public transit options.
"Based on that we can get a pretty good estimate of how many parking lot users we think we get," said Maurice Roers, facilities planning manager at Metro Transit. "At this stage, we're seeing that we probably would need to grow this facility to a total of 1,000 spaces."
Metro Transit already owns and operates the parking lot and leases the Woodbury Theatre to a different operator.
Roers said theater activity would not be compromised by a new parking ramp and theatergoers would continue to park at designated areas during the day and in the parking lot at night.
"Movie theaters and churches are great co-users of this because their peak period comes out with our low period," he said.
The city of Woodbury submitted a letter of support for the grant and potential project at a recent council meeting.
Senior Planner Melissa Douglas said the city would still review the parking ramp plan through its normal zoning process.
She added that according to preliminary plans, the ramp would be tucked in the southwest corner of the parcel with drop off and pick up in the front along Queens Boulevard. Theater parking would be concentrated on the north side.
"Right now, at the preliminary stages of the project, the city is supportive of this effort," Douglas said.
Other Park and Ride sites adjacent from the Woodbury Theatre lot are located at Woodbury Lutheran Church -- where 84 out of 90 spaces are filled up daily -- and Christ Episcopal Church, where 20 out of 50 stalls are utilized. Guardian Angels Catholic Church in Oakdale is also 100 percent full with 450 spaces, according to Metro Transit figures.
"We definitely have a high degree of park and ride usage out in the east metro -- Woodbury in particular," Roers said.
Adding up the funds
Metro Transit already received $7.2 million in CMAQ funds to help pay for a new parking lot along the I-94 corridor near Manning Avenue for construction in 2013-2014 with 550 Park and Ride spaces planned.
CMAQ funds are awarded through the Federal Highway Department with a limit of about $7 million per project. It's intended to alleviate traffic congestion and improve air quality.
Roers said Metro Transit would have to match the federal funds to make up the difference for the $13 million project.
Officials expect to learn the results of the application by this fall, but it's also possible the grant doesn't come through.
"We think the need will be there and we'll just have to try to find other funding," Roers said.