Gateway Corridor Open houses:
Mar 27 in St. Paul
Mar 29 in Eau Claire
Apr 4 in Hudson
Apr 5 in Woodbury
By Andy Rathbun of the Pioneer Press Twincities.com March 16, 2012
The Gateway Corridor Commission has eliminated a proposal for commuter rail between Minneapolis and Eau Claire, Wis., which was one of its plans to relieve traffic on Interstate 94.
The commission voted Thursday, March 15, to strike the plan due to a number of factors, including estimated ridership, economic development and cost, said commission chair Lisa Weik.
Though the commission will not be moving forward with the plan, it is recommending the Minnesota and Wisconsin transportation departments continue to study commuter rail between the cities.
“We are saying it could be option, but it’s not our charter,” said Weik, who also serves as a Washington County commissioner.
At an estimated $1.23 billion, the commuter-rail plan was relatively expensive. Weik said the commission’s preferred plan, which involves bus rapid transit between Hudson, Wis., and Minneapolis, comes in at an estimated $420 million.
The agency is studying seven plans, two of which include light rail.
The Gateway commission anticipates that the federal government will pay for half of the plan ultimately selected, with five metro-area counties and the state of Minnesota paying the other half, Weik said.
Next steps in the process include the development of an environmental-impact statement and open houses where the public can get information and provide feedback about the plans.
“We’re not operating in a vacuum,” said Weik, adding the public has a “huge influence” in the commission’s
Weik said 90,000 vehicles cross the St. Croix River on I-94 daily, and the corridor is one of the most congested in the Twin Cities.
Andy Rathbun can be reached at 651-228-2121. Follow him at twitter.com/andyrathbun.
TO LEARN MORE
Open houses about plans for Gateway Corridor transit will be held:
— From 6 to 8 p.m. March 27 at Eastside Community Center at Harding High School in St. Paul.
— From 5 to 7 p.m. March 29 at the Health Education Center at Chippewa Valley Technical College in Eau Claire.
— From 5 to 7 p.m. April 4 at the St. Croix County Government Center in Hudson, Wis.
— From 5 to 7 p.m. April 5 at Woodbury City Hall.
For more information, go to thegatewaycorridor.com