Members of the Gateway Corridor Commission held an open house and presented information, including concept images of Hudson transit stations, to the Hudson community Wednesday afternoon at the .
Lyssa Leitner, planner with Washington County Public Works, and Stephanie Eiler of CH2M Hill presented the information, which includes eight transit alternatives that are currently being studied and considered by the commission.
Among those options, bus rapid transit (BRT) is emerging as a top option for mass transportation in the Interstate 94 corridor from St. Paul into Wisconsin. The process has been underway for some time and this was the commission's third open house in Hudson since the process began.
One option, Alternative 7 (Commuter Rail), was eliminated last month. Two options, Alternative 3 (BRT) and Alternative 8 (BRT Managed Lane), were ranked "high," and two options, Alternative 2 (Transportation System Management) and Alternative 5 (Light Rail Transit), were ranked "medium."
All four of the high-to-medium options call for a park-and-ride bus station in Hudson near I-94 and Carmichael Road. Late last year, the commission eliminated the possibility of commuter rail or light rail crossing the St. Croix River on I-94.
One concept image showed a Hudson transit station at the site of the vacant tourism information center on Crestview Drive. The image shows an additional access point to the property directly across from the intersection of Crestview Drive and O'Keefe Road.
Hudson Center LLC for $1.3 million. Eiler and Leitner said the commission also is looking at the possibility of using the current park-and-ride lot at Carmichael Road and Coulee Road. That lot currently has spaces for 168 vehicles, according to WisDOT. The concept image of the Crestview Drive station indicated that it would have spaces for 500 vehicles.
Another concept image showed what a commuter rail station would have looked like at County Road U and Highway 12, but the commuter rail option already has been eliminated.
Leitner cautioned that the images presented Wednesday are drafts and the numbers are estimates that use rounded numbers. The commission is still in the early phases of the project, and construction isn't expected to begin before 2018.
Here’s information on the high, medium and eliminated options as presented at Wednesday's meeting:
- Alternative 3, bus rapid transit in a dedicated 11.5-mile long lane along Hudson Road and Interstate 94, scored high in the areas of cost ($420 million) and travel time (16 minutes from Oakdale to the Union Depot). It scored in the midrange on daily ridership at 5,400. The dedicated lane would end at Manning Avenue. A bus shoulder lane would be used from there to Hudson.
- Alternative 8 includes bus rapid transit in a 14.4-mile long managed lane—similar to a MnPASS lane—that would also be used by carpoolers and individual drivers who pay a fare. It’s the only option that would measurably improve traffic flow in the Manning Avenue to Woodbury Drive/Keats Avenue segment of the interstate, said Stephanie Eiler of CH2M Hill. The option also ranks high in the area of cost ($590 million) and travel times (15 minutes from Oakdale to the Union Depot). It ranked low in daily ridership at 4,600. It's unclear how this option would get across the St. Croix River bridge to service Hudson riders.
- Alternative 2, adding simple upgrades such as shoulder lane improvements for buses and park-and-ride lots, scored high in the area of cost ($65 million) and travel times (15 minutes from Oakdale to the Union Depot). It scored low in its impact on economic development and daily ridership, at 3,300.
- Alternative 5, light rail transit for 11.5 miles along Hudson Road and Interstate 94 scored high in daily ridership, at 9,100 and travel times (14 minutes from Oakdale to the Union Depot). At $980 million, it scored low on cost. The light rail would end at Manning Avenue. A bus shoulder lane would be used from there to Hudson.
- Alternative 7, a 99.9 mile commuter rail line on existing track that would have passed through Hudson on existing tracks from Eau Claire to St. Paul, was eliminated Thursday by the Gateway Corridor Commission. This option called for a park-and-ride facility near the rail line at County Road U. “Where that track is, it just doesn’t lie within the dense population and employment areas of Minnesota,” Eiler said. It ranked low in cost at $1.23 billion and projected daily ridership at 3,900.
The Gateway Corridor Commission is scheduled to choose a preferred option in early summer. To learn more about the different options and give feedback, visit TheGatewayCorridor.com.