NEWSBRIEF: Major step forward for East Metro transit line

Minnesota Municipal Power Agency recently installed a solar array at North High School as part of the Hometown Solar Grant program. submitted photo

The Federal Transit Administration awarded the Gold Line Bus Rapid Transit project an important approval Jan. 19. The FTA officially granted Gold Line entry into the project development phase of the federal New Starts program, which funds major transit projects across the country. The designation means local spending will now be eligible for potential matching federal funds in the future.

The Gold Line is a nine-mile BRT line, that will run from Woodbury, through Oakdale, Landfall, Maplewood, the East Side of Saint Paul, ultimately ending at Union Depot in Saint Paul where riders can plug into the broader transit network. The planned line includes 11 stations and will be Minnesota’s first BRT line operating primarily in a dedicated busway. For much of the route, the line will run near I-94, one of the region’s most congested stretches of highway.

With the acceptance into project development, the Gold Line team is now cleared to begin the design, engineering, environmental and community outreach work involved in building the line. That project team will continue to include staff from Metropolitan Council, Ramsey County, Washington County and the Minnesota Department of Transportation.

The cost of the Gold Line project is currently estimated at $420 million, with half of the funding coming from the FTA. That cost estimate will be revised as the design and engineering work on the project continues. Current timelines estimate construction beginning in 2022, with rider service beginning in 2024.

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