November 01, 2018 06:49 PM
Thousands of people are raising concerns as plans for a bus rapid transit line move forward in Ramsey County.
The Rush Line project will connect Lowertown in St. Paul to downtown White Bear Lake.
The environmental review process started about a month ago. Ramsey County announced locations for the 21 stations. The final stop is proposed for Clark Avenue in White Bear Lake between 2nd and 3rd Streets.
“I’m shocked that they would come up with this design,” said Ed Cox, who owns a contracting company in White Bear Lake.
Cox said he has six projects underway in downtown.
“This neighborhood is super high demand because of the lake and the bike path,” he said.
Cox is worried that could change if the station is built downtown. Buses will run every 10 minutes, seven days a week.
“Downtown anywhere doesn't make sense,” he said.
One of the reasons a rapid transit rush line bus route is needed is the population growth the northeast metro is experiencing. Below are populations for White Bear Lake and Hugo and the percentage those populations have increased since 2010. St. Paul and Bloomington are included for comparison.
Cox is one of more than 4,400 people who signed a petition opposing the stop, expressing concern about traffic congestion, noise, pedestrian safety and how it all could affect property values.
“Most of the people that signed our petition, and most of the people I’ve talked to are for busing, they're not against the idea,” Cox said.
“Where is the big question."
Andrew Gitzlaff, the senior transportation planner for Ramsey County, said the site was selected by a volunteer committee of residents and business owners.
“It’s close to (Highway) 61," he said. "Easy in and out access for transit, ability to revitalize an area that could use a facelift by adding a project."
Gitzlaff said the route and stops unveiled last month are the result of a feasibility study which looked at 55 different route segments and bus types.
“We are going to go back and take a look at those other sites that were looked at, and identified by that committee, and see if there's another alternative,” he said.
“Focusing in on the other side of 61, there’s always been interest in expanding their downtown and the core of it. A transit project could be a potential way to bridge that gap.”
Gitzlaff also said that as part of the environmental review process, officials will look at traffic, parking and business access impacts.
“This is the appropriate time in the process for questions to come out,” he said.
Once buses are running, Gitzlaff expects riders will make about 8,000 trips per day on the line. And it will create access to more than 100,000 jobs.
There is still about a year to a year-and-a-half left in the environmental review process. Buses aren't expected to start running until 2026.
Questions can be submitted on the project's website.
Updated: November 01, 2018 06:49 PM
Created: November 01, 2018 04:46 PM
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