MN: Rush Line Transit Planners Seek Public Input

May 16--Little has happened in the five years since a major study of the Rush Line transit corridor was completed, but a new study is breathing fresh air into the project.

Planners are looking for public input for the latest effort and will host open houses later this month.

The Rush Line Corridor stretches north 80 miles, from the Union Depot in downtown St. Paul to Hinckley.

An alternatives analysis completed in 2009 identified two viable transit options for the corridor: light rail to White Bear Lake and bus rapid transit to Forest Lake.

Commuter buses already run between St. Paul and Forest Lake, an important step in studying and growing ridership for transit corridors that will eventually seek federal funding.

Money spent studying the corridor so far, and even the money to get the buses running, came from Ramsey and Washington counties.

The current study, known as the pre-project development study, aims to refine transit alternatives for the corridor and determine what they might cost. From there, planning would move to engineering and environmental impact studies.

Any construction of rail lines or BRT infrastructure is years away, said Rush Line task force chair and Ramsey County Commissioner Victoria Reinhardt.

In terms of regional viability, Reinhardt said, she's confident the Rush Line Corridor is a ranking contender in the east metro, where transit is lagging.

"Generally speaking, east metro lines -- because the west metro has taken a lot of money -- I think are in a good position," she said Thursday.

Other corridors under study in the east metro include the Gateway, which runs from St. Paul to Wisconsin via Interstate 94, and the Red Rock, which generally follows U.S. 61 from St. Paul to Hastings.

There will be two Rush Line open houses for the public to attend:

-- 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. May 28 at the Maplewood Library, 3025 Southlawn Drive.

-- 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. May 29 at the Forest Lake Transit Center, 19955 Forest Road North.

For more information, visit rushline.org.

Elizabeth Mohr can be reached at 651-228-5162. Follow her at twitter.com/LizMohr.

Copyright 2014 - Pioneer Press, St. Paul, Minn.

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