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FTA injects $1M into Gateway transit project

Karlee Weinmann//September 16, 2015

FTA injects $1M into Gateway transit project

Karlee Weinmann//September 16, 2015

The 12-mile bus rapid transit line planned for the east metro got a $1 million boost from the Federal Transit Administration on Monday, earmarked for supporting economic growth along the route.

This week’s funding infusion signals an important vote of confidence from the federal government, expected to cover 45 percent of the Gateway Corridor’s $485 million price tag. The grant is part of a pilot program to help cities navigate transit-oriented development planning, but does not count toward the project budget.

A further $300,000 in matching funds from the Counties Transit Improvement Board will help local planners along the route – which extends from Union Depot in downtown St. Paul to Lake Elmo – find ways to leverage the line to boost jobs and housing.

“The funds will help us support our existing communities, plan for growth, create economic development opportunities and provide mobility options for businesses and residents,” Washington County Commissioner Karen Weik, who chairs the Gateway Corridor Commission, said in a statement.

In addition, she said, the grant will help ensure cohesive planning between the diverse group of cities along the route, including St. Paul, Maplewood, Oakdale, Landfall Village, Woodbury and Lake Elmo. Consistency throughout the process will streamline vital pieces of the project’s success, like pinpointing infrastructure investments and helpful policy changes.

“Working in collaboration, we can meet the needs of each station while maintaining the continuity of the corridor as a whole and expanding the regional transit system,” Metropolitan Council Chair Adam Duininck said in a statement.

The Gateway line, also known as the Gold Line, would be Minnesota’s first bus rapid transit route with a dedicated lane. Its 13 stops are designed to offer commuters an alternative along Interstate 94, one of the busiest commuter routes in the east metro. The planned route includes a stop at 3M Co.’s Maplewood headquarters.

Gateway Corridor planners predict 40 percent population growth along the line by 2030, plus the addition of 61,500 jobs.

Service is expected to start by 2022. Over the past five years, work on the project focused on route analysis and environmental impact evaluation. Going forward, it’ll shift to engineering and construction.

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