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Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Twin Cities suburbs to study mass transit links to Wisconsin

From an article by Kevin Featherly in The Daily Reporter:

Minneapolis — Looking to get their share of transit money, leaders from eastern Twin Cities suburbs are planning a $1.4 million, 18-month study to identify mass transit options for the Interstate 94 corridor into Wisconsin.

The leaders, known as the Gateway Corridor Commission, hired CH2M Hill, a global engineering, consulting and construction firm with offices in Mendota Heights.

Ted Schoenecker, transportation planning manager for the Washington County Public Works Department, said the commission is approaching the study with no preconceived notions about which mass transit option would be best for the stretch of I-94 from St. Paul into Wisconsin, known as the Gateway Corridor.

Some options include a light rail line from St. Paul to Woodbury; a light rail line to Woodbury with a bus rapid transit link to Eau Claire; and a commuter rail line from St. Paul to Eau Claire that could share infrastructure with a high-speed passenger rail line that might one day run from St. Paul to Chicago.

Schoenecker said those are a few among many possibilities. “There could be 400 options beyond that,” he said. “So determining the best options is really the gist of what this study is going to do.”

The commission will launch its study in September and should complete it by spring of 2012. The study will determine potential ridership, project alignment, transit mode and costs for a transit way along the corridor.

Clint Gridley, Woodbury’s city administrator, said developing a mass transit strategy along the corridor is one of his city’s economic development priorities.

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