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Gateway Corridor Commission members, project stakeholders meet with federal leaders

Tom Cook, Metro State; Gary Kriesel, Washington County; state Rep. JoAnn Ward, DFL-Woodbury; Paul Reinke, Oakdale; Amy Williams, Lakeland; Adam Duininck, Metropolitan Council; U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum, DFL-Minn.; Rafael Ortega, Ramsey County; Mary Giuliani Stephens, Woodbury; Lisa Weik, Washington County; Will Schroeer, East Metro Strong; Susan Kent, state senator; Kyle Makarios, North Central States Regional Council of Carpenters; Nora Slawik, Maplewood; and Lisa Palmero, Globe.

Members of the Gateway Corridor Commission, business representatives and elected officials returned last month with heightened optimism for the Gold Line bus rapid transit project after two days of meetings with federal officials in Washington. 

“We went to D.C. with a broad coalition of people from the Twin Cities,” said Washington County Commissioner Lisa Weik, chairwoman of the Gateway Corridor Commission, which is comprised of elected officials and community members. “We were very well received by elected officials and policy makers. Therese McMillian, the acting administrator for the Federal Transit Administration, told us the Gold Line BRT is an example of how to right-size transit technology to ridership and development opportunities.”

Adam Duininck, chairman of the Metropolitan Council, said: “The mix of business people, labor, education, and policy makers who made the trip demonstrates the far reaching support for the Gold Line BRT. It was great to also see our federal delegation excited about this project, which is a part of our growing regional transit system.”

Members of the Minnesota delegation, including U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum, DFL-Minn., indicated strong support.

“I’m going to work with our federal delegation to advance Gateway because it’s a great project that clearly has local support and technical merit,” McCollum said.

In addition to asking for continued support as the project prepares to move into the Project Development phase, the visitors also thanked federal officials for past support, according to Gary Kriesel, Washington County commissioner.

“We thanked them for the new, $1 million transit-oriented development federal grant and for including the BRT project on the Federal Permitting Dashboard, which expedites the process,” Kriesel said.

The Gateway Corridor is in the draft environmental impact statement (DEIS) phase of the Federal Transit Administration process. Reports will be submitted for federal review after local public hearings this winter. Federal funds will be requested to cover 45 percent of total project costs.

With necessary approvals and funding in place, the Gold Line BRT could be operational as early as 2022, providing all day, frequent service in an exclusive lane between Union Depot in St. Paul and Woodbury/Lake Elmo, along Interstate 94 and Hudson Road.

Traveling together to Washington D.C. Oct. 7 and 8 were: Tom Cook, Metro State University; Duininck; state Sen. Susan Kent, DFL-Woodbury; Gary Kriesel, Washington County commissioner; Kyle Makarios, North Central States Regional Council of Carpenters; Rafael Ortega, Ramsey County commissioner; Lisa Palermo, Woodbury Area Chamber of Commerce/Globe University; Paul Reinke, Oakdale council member; Will Schroeer, East Metro Strong; Nora Slawik, Maplewood mayor; Mary Giuliani Stephens, Woodbury mayor; state Rep. JoAnn Ward, DFL-Woodbury; Lisa Weik, Washington County commissioner; and Amy Williams, Lakeland mayor.

Ramsey County Commissioner Rafael Ortega, vice chairman of the Gateway Corridor Commission, said the benefits of the trip continue to be evident.

“The positive energy from our experiences in D.C. keeps us enthused and working hard to deliver Minnesota’s first BRT in a dedicated lane,” Ortega said.

The Gateway Corridor Gold Line BRT would be Minnesota’s first BRT line in an exclusive lane. The work is led by the Gateway Corridor Commission, which is comprised of local elected officials, business and community leaders. More information is available at www.theGatewayCorridor.com.

 

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