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Gold Line to add bus service to Woodbury, expand transit in metro

Updated: November 28, 2019 10:26 PM

For nearly 20 years, Doug Swalboski has been dealing with the rush at Culver's of St. Paul. And from the window, he has seen firsthand how backed up Interstate 94 can get outside.

“Many of the mornings it's stop and go,” he said. "It’s unproductive.”

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Swalboski is the owner of the Culver’s.

He believes the Gold Line could help with congestion. He’s been part of the planning process, even hanging informational sheets inside the restaurant.

The Bus Rapid Transit project would connect downtown St. Paul to Woodbury. The 10-mile route would have about 21 stops, including stops in Maplewood, Oakdale and Landfall.

There is also a stop planned outside of Swalboski’s Culver’s.

“I’m optimistic a lot of the people that live in downtown St. Paul will be able to grab the Gold Line and come up for lunch, actually,” he said. “The ease just getting team members to the restaurant is going to be very helpful.”

The bus line will operate primarily in bus-only lanes, according to Metro Transit. The lanes will be built along the I-94 corridor, adjacent to the highway. 

Buses are expected to run every 10 to 15 minutes. 

“(The Gold Line is) an affordable, efficient service that offers some of the same kind of features that light rail would offer,” said Chris Beckwith, the Gold Line project manager.

Beckwith told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS the line will overlap with some existing express route park-and-ride stations, which will give more flexibility for those riders.

“Maybe you have a sick child or another appointment to attend, you can actually hop on the Gold Line and get back to your original destination,” said Beckwith. “So you'll have an option to get home if you're taking that express route in.”

According to Metro Transit, about 18% of households along the Gold Line don’t have a car.

“The east metro is in need of expanded transit service,” Beckwith said.

The Gold Line isn’t expected to be operating until 2024, with construction starting in 2022. It’s expected to cost about $461 million.

“It’s really the start of the east metro build out,” said Nick Thompson, the director of transportation services for the Metropolitan Council. “As we build this entire network out\, it's connecting all of our major cities.”

There are several transit projects in the works, including the Orange Line, which will provide BRT service south to Burnsville. That line is expected to open in 2021.

“Our goal is to try to open one of these about every year until we build out the network, over the next decade,” Thompson said.
 

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Callan Gray

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