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Manning Avenue park and ride project shelved

A park and ride facility that was set for construction at Manning Avenue and Interstate 94, like this one at Woodbury 10 Theatre, has been put on hold while Gateway Corridor alignment options are studied. (Staff photo by Riham Feshir)

A new park and ride facility that was set to relieve congestion at existing locations has been put on hold as discussions regarding Gateway Corridor alignments continue.

Metro Transit was set to construct the lot this year at Manning Avenue and Interstate 94, but Woodbury officials asked to pump the brakes on the project, which is the end point of the proposed Gateway Corridor transit plan.

Woodbury Mayor Mary Giuliani Stephens said Gateway Corridor planners are studying two different alignment options – one on the north side of I-94 and one on the south – and the city didn’t want the end point to dictate the rest of the alignment.

“It wouldn’t make any sense to have a (transit) line up north and a park and ride down here,” she said.

City officials said they prefer to wait until further studies are done on where best to build a light rail or a bus rapid transit before adding a new park and ride facility.

“The city remains interested in having that park and ride at 94 and Manning,” City Planner Eric Searles said. “But we just feel it’s appropriate to tie the two together to make sure the right decision is made.”

Metro Transit had received $7.28 million in federal funding and $1.82 million in regional transit capital funding to construct the park and ride, purchase buses and add a new express service from Woodbury to Minneapolis and St. Paul.

The agency has not lost out on the funding, Metro Transit spokesman Drew Kerr said, and the money will continue to be held for future use.

Woodbury commuters currently use four park and ride locations, with the majority of spaces continuing to swell at or near capacity.

The most utilized sites are lots at Woodbury Theatre and Guardian Angels Catholic Church, which were at 97 percent and 100 percent capacity in 2013, according to Metro Transit.

Christ Episcopal Church has 100 spaces with 61 percent filling up, while Woodbury Lutheran is sitting at 81 percent capacity at its 91-space lot, according to the 2013 figures.

Metro Transit said it’s now pursuing alternative locations for a new park and ride. The site selection is being conducted in conjunction with planning efforts for the Gateway Corridor.

“As the work moves along, we want to make sure we’re building infrastructure that aligns with that plan,” Kerr said.

Metro Transit has in the past temporarily used locations to provide short-term relief when existing park and ride facilities are at or above capacity, but an interim location has not been identified for Woodbury.

The city of Woodbury is hoping a decision on which side of I-94 Gateway Corridor transit will be comes later this fall, as planners wrap up the scoping and public feedback part of the project.

Searles said the city will continue to work with all parties involved in the process, including surrounding communities, to make sure a park and ride that makes sense will be built.

“We’re committed to working with regional partners to ensure all of the development or redevelopment opportunities that transit may bring can be realized,” he said.

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.