Planners for the east metro's Gateway Corridor are seeking public input.
As part of what's called the "scoping process," planners want to hear opinions about whether transit is needed in the corridor, what its purpose should be, the transit alternatives that have been proposed and the effects that should be evaluated, according to information given to the Washington County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday by project manager Andy Gitzlaff.
The corridor extends from Union Depot in downtown St. Paul to the state line, generally along Interstate 94.
The Gateway Corridor Commission will consider the public input as plans for transit move forward.
Gitzlaff said 2014 activities for the corridor will include efforts to secure funding from the Legislature, increased public outreach and the continuation of a draft environmental impact study.
Washington County commissioners have been actively involved in corridor planning, though concerns over cost linger.
"The elephant in the room is how we're going to pay for all this stuff," commissioner Gary Kriesel said Tuesday. "A determination has been made to pursue transit alternatives in Washington County ... now it's about figuring out the financing."
Residents can offer comments at meetings from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. March 24 at Guardian Angels Church in Oakdale, from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. March 25 at Conway Recreation Center in St. Paul and at 2 p.m. April 10 at Woodbury City Hall.
For those who cannot make it to a meeting, comments can be submitted by calling 651-430-4300, emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, faxing 651-430-4350 or visiting thegatewaycorridor.com.
The Gateway Corridor Commission was formed in 2009. A two-year, $1.74 million study completed in 2013 narrowed transit options for the corridor.
Planners say the corridor is congested and there are no plans to expand I-94, so commuters need transit. Light rail and dedicated-lane bus rapid transit have been identified as the two most viable options.
Of the two options being studied by the commission, the bus rapid transit in dedicated lanes would cost about $400 million to build, and light rail $920 million.
The cost would be divided among the agencies involved: 50 percent from the federal government, 30 percent from the Counties Transit Improvement Board (which gets its revenue from a quarter-cent sales tax in five metro counties), 10 percent from the state, and 5 percent each from Ramsey and Washington counties.
Elizabeth Mohr can be reached at 651-228-5162.
Follow her at twitter.com/LizMohr.
Copyright 2014 - Pioneer Press, St. Paul, Minn.