Gold Line BRT (Gateway Corridor)

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David Greene
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Re: Gateway Corridor

Postby David Greene » December 15th, 2013, 9:59 pm

Snelbian wrote:So this would go from "corridor" investment to essentially adding a couple stops to existing express routes and adding some mid-day trips. Meanwhile, Bottineau.
I don't know why you're setting up this false choice. We need high quality transit in both places. It is absolutely wrong to say Gateway should be dumbed down and absolutely wrong to say Bottineau isn't needed.

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Re: Gateway Corridor

Postby MNdible » December 15th, 2013, 11:14 pm

Not to get all east-side vs. west-side, but it's worth noting that Hennepin County has been doing almost all of the heavy lifting on all of these transit lines since forever. If transit is better developed in the west metro, it's because somebody besides the state or the Metro Council took some initiative (that and the fact that there are more promising destinations in the west metro).

robotlollipop
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Re: Gateway Corridor

Postby robotlollipop » December 16th, 2013, 3:27 am

I would say that the city of Woodbury is just as "promising" a destination as any other.

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Re: Gateway Corridor

Postby mulad » December 16th, 2013, 6:40 am

I can't say I've had many reasons to visit Woodbury over the years, but it's the 10th-largest city in the state and has a population around 64,000, on par with the size of Rochester back in the 1980s when I was growing up.

David Greene
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Re: Gateway Corridor

Postby David Greene » December 16th, 2013, 7:08 am

MNdible wrote:Not to get all east-side vs. west-side, but it's worth noting that Hennepin County has been doing almost all of the heavy lifting on all of these transit lines since forever. If transit is better developed in the west metro, it's because somebody besides the state or the Metro Council took some initiative (that and the fact that there are more promising destinations in the west metro).
I mostly agree with this except for the promising destinations part. Gateway is of course mostly a commuter line and typically those don't have a "promising destination" at one end. There is a lot of population out in Woodbury and I think it makes sense to try to get them to take transit. A bus-only shoulder isn't going to do that.

That said, there is a lot of retail out there and I could see a number of people from St. Paul using transit to get to jobs. That's why we need to close the gap from St. Paul's east side to Gateway.

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Re: Gateway Corridor

Postby min-chi-cbus » December 16th, 2013, 8:40 am

MNdible wrote:Not to get all east-side vs. west-side, but it's worth noting that Hennepin County has been doing almost all of the heavy lifting on all of these transit lines since forever. If transit is better developed in the west metro, it's because somebody besides the state or the Metro Council took some initiative (that and the fact that there are more promising destinations in the west metro).
That's probably true also because of the political landscape of the two sides (Bachman's almost notorious 6th District).

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Re: Gateway Corridor

Postby RailBaronYarr » December 16th, 2013, 11:53 am

David Greene wrote:That said, there is a lot of retail out there and I could see a number of people from St. Paul using transit to get to jobs. That's why we need to close the gap from St. Paul's east side to Gateway.
I'm curious how many non-[retail, daycare, hospital, etc] jobs there are in the east metro relative to other ones. I say that because it seems odd to want to cart people from the core out the burbs "for the jobs" when the jobs only really exist to serve a population that sprawled out faster than productive jobs did. (note, when I say productive, I don't mean that we don't need the service/retail industries, only that they're not economies we can export to other regions or countries).

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Re: Gateway Corridor

Postby robotlollipop » December 16th, 2013, 2:27 pm

As someone who grew up in Woodbury, I would have

David Greene
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Re: Gateway Corridor

Postby David Greene » December 16th, 2013, 2:43 pm

RailBaronYarr wrote:
David Greene wrote:That said, there is a lot of retail out there and I could see a number of people from St. Paul using transit to get to jobs. That's why we need to close the gap from St. Paul's east side to Gateway.
I'm curious how many non-[retail, daycare, hospital, etc] jobs there are in the east metro relative to other ones. I say that because it seems odd to want to cart people from the core out the burbs "for the jobs" when the jobs only really exist to serve a population that sprawled out faster than productive jobs did. (note, when I say productive, I don't mean that we don't need the service/retail industries, only that they're not economies we can export to other regions or countries).
I understand your point but when you're unemployed, you take the job you can get, not the job someone wants to have available near you 10 years later. And there's a lot of unemployment on the east side.

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Re: Gateway Corridor

Postby twincitizen » December 16th, 2013, 2:56 pm

RailBaronYarr wrote:...it seems odd to want to cart people from the core out the burbs "for the jobs" when the jobs only really exist to serve a population that sprawled out faster than productive jobs did.
As a Woodbury native, this is a pretty accurate assessment of the east metro. Outside of 3M and the long-abandoned State Farm campus at I-94/Radio (where no station is planned), there have never been any non-retail, non-service jobs to speak of. The Woodwinds Hospital medical area off 494 is maybe the next biggest cluster, and that would not be even remotely served by Gateway. Sure there are lawyers, dentists, and medical clinics that provide higher paying jobs in the community, but for the most part, there are no "real jobs" in the area. Certainly not any that are clustered in any dense arrangement.

This Woodbury native tends to agree that Gateway is not the only answer. Unfortunately our transit planning process is driven by county commissioners rather than planning staff and transit funding realities are what they are. County Commissioners want to hold shovels, not brooms.
The best thing for Washington County in the short term is more express service and SOMETHING, ANYTHING in the way of local service. That could come in the form of route extensions of existing east metro local buses (many terminate at Sun Ray) or new suburban local routes that feed Oakdale & Woodbury destinations into connections at SunRay. You could certainly get much more bang for your buck than Gateway's transit guideway by providing Woodbury and Oakdale some local service to begin with.

Sidebar: From the Lowertown Green Line O&M facility to 3M is only 4.5 miles. I, too, wonder how productive an extension of that route could be. It might not be a bad idea for the Gateway Commission to look at a shorter LRT line and enhanced express bus + local service for Washington County. LRT to Sun Ray & 3M, plus bus connections feeding in from the less dense areas actually sounds pretty good. All day fixed-guideway service to Tamarack Village and some sparse industrial park in Oakdale's freeway armpit is a pretty ridiculous idea.

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Re: Gateway Corridor

Postby David Greene » December 16th, 2013, 3:49 pm

twincitizen wrote:Sidebar: From the Lowertown Green Line O&M facility to 3M is only 4.5 miles. I, too, wonder how productive an extension of that route could be. It might not be a bad idea for the Gateway Commission to look at a shorter LRT line and enhanced express bus + local service for Washington County. LRT to Sun Ray & 3M, plus bus connections feeding in from the less dense areas actually sounds pretty good. All day fixed-guideway service to Tamarack Village and some sparse industrial park in Oakdale's freeway armpit is a pretty ridiculous idea.
I actually really like this idea too but it still leaves Washington Co. out of the CTIB picture. Yeah, it stinks but that's the reality we have.

On the other hand, how much of a hit would it be for Washington Co. to back out of CTIB? How much sales tax do they contribute? What would be the effect assuming Anoka would join them?

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Re: Gateway Corridor

Postby RailBaronYarr » December 16th, 2013, 3:52 pm

David Greene wrote:I understand your point but when you're unemployed, you take the job you can get, not the job someone wants to have available near you 10 years later. And there's a lot of unemployment on the east side.
I didn't mean to be disparaging to certain people or pretend to ignore the real problems unemployed people may be facing. Unfortunately, we're in the throes if the worst recession in a long time, so unemployment and challenges people face are more exacerbated than normal - so it's my opinion that making major investments in transpo (that includes roads AND transit) simply to solve unemployment seems odd. It's a fundamental disagreement on how to solve the problem, obviously, and no one is wrong. But I would bet that if there are jobs in the east metro for people (or vice versa), then instead of widening lanes or building rail (obviously bus routes that use shoulders is a quick/cheap fix) would be far more expensive than simply up-zoning where the jobs are and allowing people to move. When you're unemployed, you can't be more picky about where to live than what job to take (IMO). I'd rather the money spent on low-productivity transit/road spending be split between welfare programs that soften the impact of unemployment and highly productive transportation in productive places.

Ok, I'm gonna try to get back on topic and stop waxing larger issues here.

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Re: Gateway Corridor

Postby David Greene » December 16th, 2013, 3:58 pm

RailBaronYarr wrote:
David Greene wrote:I understand your point but when you're unemployed, you take the job you can get, not the job someone wants to have available near you 10 years later. And there's a lot of unemployment on the east side.
I didn't mean to be disparaging to certain people or pretend to ignore the real problems unemployed people may be facing. Unfortunately, we're in the throes if the worst recession in a long time, so unemployment and challenges people face are more exacerbated than normal...When you're unemployed, you can't be more picky about where to live than what job to take (IMO).
Well, the people I'm talking about were unemployed long before the current recession. It's a structural problem and for decades no one has done anything to open up access to jobs for such communities. How much longer must they wait for the dreamed-for urban paradise they've been hearing about? Many of these folks can't move to the jobs. They can't afford to live in a car-dependent environment.

I'm not at all saying that Gateway as designed in a good idea. I think it's rather terrible actually. But there is more to transportation and land use planning than the traditional technical goals.

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Re: Gateway Corridor

Postby mattaudio » December 16th, 2013, 4:06 pm

If they can't afford to live in a car-dependent environment, why would they be living anywhere east of Sun Ray?

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Re: Gateway Corridor

Postby stp1980 » December 16th, 2013, 4:34 pm

With any of our planned busway corridors I worry about lack of standards and what we end up with is a bunch of watered down lines all with a little bit different level of service, hours, ticketing . I think the red line has shown this to some degree and it is worrisome that there is a lack of standards for what a true BRT route is.

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Re: Gateway Corridor

Postby talindsay » December 16th, 2013, 5:14 pm

David Greene wrote:
twincitizen wrote:On the other hand, how much of a hit would it be for Washington Co. to back out of CTIB? How much sales tax do they contribute? What would be the effect assuming Anoka would join them?
It was deemed a huge win when Washington County voted to join the CTIB not because of the money they were bringing to the table, but because of the political message that they're part of the metro and accept themselves as partners in metro transportation planning and development. Scott and Carver didn't join, and so without Washington County it would have just been the four big counties that have densely-urbanized areas. It was also a vote of confidence in the newly-established CTIB. Recall too that Pawlenty had vetoed the enabling legislation, and in an extremely rare move the legislature managed to override his veto thanks to the political-career-sacrificing actions of a few key Republicans. That five counties joined was proof that the support was broad and the Pawlenty's anti-tax, anti-transit bent couldn't even carry the day in all of the small counties.

That's ancient history now - the CTIB has been collecting tax money for five years without any public backlash since the initial sacrifice of those Republican legislators who voted for the enabling legislation. At this point that money is being collected, it's water under the bridge. I don't think it's likely Washington County will pull out - I actually think it's more likely that Carver and/or Scott will join than that Washington will leave, although I don't think either scenario is likely. But at this point, the political topic of the CTIB is settled and if anything it looks like the foil to the "big bad" that's the Met Council - people opposed to the Met Council's unelected status can point to the CTIB for an alternative view of more democratic, collaborative regional governance. Besides, Washington County is guaranteed to get out at least as much as it puts in, which is an exceedingly small portion of the pot.

What would happen if Washington County left? The meetings would be slightly shorter and there wouldn't have to be any math around minimum guarantees; just as Scott and Carver currently sit on the CTIB as non-voting members, the currently-voting Washington reps would continue to attend, just without the right to vote. The county would still pay the tax for a long time in the future, since they already committed to the Central Corridor's financing, except they wouldn't be getting their minimum guarantee any more. Practically speaking, it wouldn't make any sense for them to leave the CTIB until Central's bonds are paid off, because they will be paying that long regardless and as long as they're members they get the minimum guarantee, which is a pretty sweet deal for them considering that they're part of the overall obligation.

Anoka won't leave - it would be very expensive for them given how much they're received from the CTIB, and they'll be tied for the duration of the bonds anyway.

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Re: Gateway Corridor

Postby Tcmetro » December 16th, 2013, 7:25 pm

Some of my thoughts about Gateway Corridor...

- ROW concerns do seem legitimate. My own unscientific observations from Google Maps and Google Street View, as well as the project map on the Gateway Corridor website tells me that there is quite a large portion of I-94 that will have to be reconstructed.

- To lower costs, perhaps the BRT guideway could be built to Century Ave, and buses could take surface streets from there. This would allow buses to branch out into the eastern suburbs.

- We should remember that Woodbury has a lot of retail jobs, which are low-income jobs, and therefore the presence of transit is good for those workers.

- We should also remember that Woodbury is subject to Metropolitan Council guidelines on developing additional affordable housing. These new residents would be served better by transit if the Gateway Corridor transit project is built.

- Washington County is also a member of CTIB. The other line serving Washington County is the Red Rock line, which is unlikely to be a prospect in the near term, and probably something that will happen in 20+ years. Building the Gateway Corridor would help to include Washington County in the transit system.

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Re: Gateway Corridor

Postby Snelbian » December 17th, 2013, 8:11 am

David Greene wrote:
Snelbian wrote:So this would go from "corridor" investment to essentially adding a couple stops to existing express routes and adding some mid-day trips. Meanwhile, Bottineau.
I don't know why you're setting up this false choice. We need high quality transit in both places. It is absolutely wrong to say Gateway should be dumbed down and absolutely wrong to say Bottineau isn't needed.
I'm not. Simply pointing out the absurdity of a corridor in name only finally serving the grossly underserved east while we build a train through golf courses to a corporate campus with very little in between in the west.

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Re: Gateway Corridor

Postby David Greene » December 17th, 2013, 10:17 am

Snelbian wrote:I'm not. Simply pointing out the absurdity of a corridor in name only finally serving the grossly underserved east while we build a train through golf courses to a corporate campus with very little in between in the west.
No, it's wrong because you're completely ignoring the bus network and a streetcar that will feed that train, not to mention the moderately dense neighborhoods it passes through.

Look at the ridership numbers and tell me it doesn't serve anyone. It serves enough people to qualify for LRT status according to the federal criteria. That's no small feat.

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Re: Gateway Corridor

Postby Zanderkx » January 18th, 2014, 8:56 pm

I sincerely hope that when push comes to shove on this project, after LRT is inevitably chosen as the LPA later this year and the showdown with Mndot and Susan Haigh over the costs compared to BRT begin, that this project doesn't devolve into another Southwest abyss.
A Ramsey County LRT extension to 3M, with connecting BRT service to Washington county is what makes financial and operational sense to keep this project on schedule. Add in some local/feeder service for Oakdale, Woodbury and the like for a fraction of the price, and Washington county will have done more to improve its transit access than a little used fixed guide railway ever could.
This is really the only viable option for this project, which is needed. Washington county just needs to understand that it, like Dakota, does not have the built environment to warrant rail service, save for commuter rail, and ought to put its energies into pushing an improved bus network.


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