Gateway transit project receives $5.4 million grant
The Gateway Corridor Bus Rapid Transit project has almost received all of the funding necessary to move it into the project development phase, thanks to a $5.4 million grant award.
The Washington County Board of Commissioners accepted a grant agreement with the grantor, the Counties Transit Improvement Board, at the March 8 meeting.
The funding will cover the cost of almost one full year of the project development phase, according to Jan Lucke, transit and planning manager for Washington County Public Works. Gateway Corridor planners are working to redefine the locally prefered alternative route for the eastern end of the BRT route, and completing the associated draft environmental impact statement process. But at the same time, they are looking ahead to the next phase -- the project development phase -- and how to fund that work.
In preparation for the project development phase, Washington County commissioners authorized the application for the CTIB grant last summer, Lucke said. Receipt of the funds is contingent upon the Federal Transit Administration’s approval for the Gateway Corridor/Gold Line BRT project to move ahead to the project development phase.
In full, Lucke said, CTIB has made a commitment of $15 million to the Gateway project.
“This grant reflects approximately what is needed in the first year the project development phase of work, and additional funding for project development includes $5 million, split equally between Ramsey and Washington counties and $5 million from the state, for a total project cost of $25 million for the project development phase of work,” Lucke said.
But local officials are also looking to state legislators to make the final financial commitment to the project. In 2014, Washington County requested $5 million in state matching funds for the project, but received only $2 million of that request. The additional funding was requested as part of the 2015 legislative session, but was not awarded. As such, the request for the remaining $3 million is again before legislators during this 2016 session.
“By executing this agreement, you and CTIB “are sending a strong message to the legislature that local funds for the project development phase of work are in place and all but $3 million in state match funds being requested this legislative session remains,” Lucke said.
The $5.4 million in CTIB grant funds will not be disbursed at Washington County, but will be passed through to either the Minnesota Department of Transportation or the Metropolitan Council -- whichever agency is named to take over the next phase of the project, which will happen when the project development phase of work begins.
Washington County District 5 Commissioner Lisa Weik, who serves on both the CTIB Executive Committee and Change Board and the Gateway Corridor Commission, said the grant funds are appreciated.
“I think we’re making great process,” Weik said. “This grant is really a strong show of support from our colleagues with the Counties Transit Improvement Board.”
Washington County officials met later on March 8 with U.S. Representative Betty McCollum. The status of the Gateway Corridor/Gold Line was among the topics discussed.