Interstate 94 could be congested from downtown St. Paul to Manning Avenue by 2030 if nothing is done to expand capacity or add transit options to the Gateway Corridor, Washington County Senior Transportation Planner Andy Gitzlaff told the Oakdale City Council at their workshop meeting Tuesday, Jan. 10.
But cities along the corridor are already working together to develop a plan for future transit, and by spring the commission expects to have chosen one preferred transit mode and route for the area, he said.
Possible modes being considered include bus rapid transit, express bus service, light rail, commuter rail and a toll lane similar to the existing MnPASS lanes. Routes could include stations near 3M, Sun Ray Shopping Center, The Oaks Business Park and Ideal Avenue.
See our previous article for more details on the routes and modes of transit being considered along The Gateway Corridor.
But even if you’re familiar with the project, here are a few things you might not know:
- More Modes Were Considered: The Gateway Corridor Commission considered additional modes of transit before narrowing the choices down to the current field of options, said Stephanie Eiler, project manager at CH2M Hill. They considered heavy rail, which is used in Washington D.C., Chicago and Los Angeles, she said. They also considered automated guideway transit, which is used in Vancouver, she said.
- Infrastructure Project? Maybe not: One of the options being considered—Option 2—would require no major infrastructure improvements, Eiler said. Under that option, express bus service would be extended into Wisconsin, with additional park and ride stations, she said.
- The Lake is in the Way: To fit lanes of roadway for bus rapid transit, or track for light rail in along Hudson Road in Landfall, putting pillars into Tanner’s Lake for a bridge would be necessary, Eiler said. “This is probably our major environmental issue in the corridor,” she said.
- More Feeder Buses: All the plans include adding new feeder bus routes in Oakdale to help people get to the transit stations without driving, Eiler said.
- Adding Lanes not Considered: Other than the possibility of adding a MnPASS-like toll lane, just adding lanes of traffic to Interstate 94 is not being studied, Eiler said. The decision to look at transit rather than traffic lanes was made by the Met Council, she said, but if they did want to look at regular lanes they couldn’t just add an option to their current study, which is a transit study under the Federal Transit Administration guidelines. They’d have to do a separate highway study under the Federal Highway Administration, she said.