Locations of Gold Line transit stations being refined, public feedback sought


courtesy of Metro Transit The Gold Line will have buses running between downtown St. Paul and Woodbury, with six stops in St. Paul.

courtesy of City of St. Paul City planners are looking to amend the city’s Gold Line Station Area Plans to move what is currently called the White Bear Avenue station from a location near Van Dyke Street to a location aligned with Hazel Street. Planners are seeking feedback on the change.

City planners are looking to amend plans regarding a Gold Line transit station near White Bear Avenue. 

Due to a new apartment building going up at 1880 Old Hudson Road, the original plan to have a station near Van Dyke Street is being adjusted to move it to Hazel Street. 

The St. Paul Planning Commission will hold a public hearing on the change on Friday, Dec. 14, at 8:30 a.m. in Room 40 at City Hall, 15 West Kellogg Blvd. Residents and potential users will have a chance to make comments on the move.

The Gold Line is a planned bus rapid transit line that will run from downtown St. Paul to Woodbury on a series of proprietary lanes and in mixed traffic along Interstate 94. In much of St. Paul the lanes will run in-between Old Hudson Road and the freeway.

According to planning documents, at the time that the Gold Line Station Area Plans were first adopted, back in 2015, there were no plans for an apartment building at the then-vacant lot of 1880 Old Hudson Road. With concerns of safety and crime, a station near Van Dyke was initially proposed because it would be in an area with “more eyes” to watch over it.

However, with the apartment building coming into fruition this year, it became apparent through the project’s refinement stage, which has been going on all this year, that it would be best to consider an alternative.

According to city documents, Metro Transit worked on public outreach throughout 2018, door-knocking and holding meetings near the station site, where a majority of the neighbors were in favor of having it closer to Hazel Street due to the proximity to more apartments, more space for the station and the fact that Hazel Street is more of a natural pedestrian access point to the neighborhood. 

However, neighbors noted they were worried about how notoriously dangerous the intersection of Hazel Street and Old Hudson Road can be; it’s located downhill from a blind turn. 

Following public interest to change the location, the city asked the District 1 Community Council to address the issue. On Oct. 1, the council’s Land Use Committee voted to support amending the Gold Line Station Area Plans to have the White Bear Avenue station aligned with Hazel Street. The committee also voted to support the creation of a three-way stop at Hazel and Old Hudson Road to improve pedestrian safety and to address the safety concerns. 

According to city planning documents, the Land Use Committee supported the change because residents nearby prefer the Hazel Street location as it’s closer to more housing and because MnDOT owns the lot next to it, which could become a plaza or set up for other public uses. The committee added there are fewer parked cars near Hazel Street that could affect pedestrian safety. 

 

Still in the planning stage

According to the Metro Gold Line website, the project is still in the development stage, which includes public feedback on station locations and environmental studies. It will move into the engineering stage in 2020. If the project progresses as planned, construction could begin in 2022 and the bus line will open in 2024. 

There will be six new stations in St. Paul and four more between Maplewood, Landfall, Oakdale and Woodbury. In downtown St. Paul, already existing bus stops will be upgraded and included in the route. 

New stations will be built near Mounds Boulevard, Earl and Etna streets, White Bear Avenue and Sun Ray. 

In addition to the amendments to the station plan, planners are also seeking feedback on other stations along the route. Through Nov. 19, anyone can submit feedback about the Sun Ray station, which will would be located east of Pederson Street between Ruth Street and McKnight Road and north of Interstate 94.

According to the project site, all stops will include heated shelters, bike parking, real-time bus arrival information, trash and recycling bins and an information kiosk. In terms of safety features, the stations will have an emergency telephone, security cameras and LED lighting. 

Riders will be required to purchase tickets, which will cost the same as normal bus fare, before boarding the bus, similar to the light rail lines. All stops will be ADA compliant. 

The transit line is estimated to cost some $420 million.

 

Feedback

For those unable to attend the Dec. 14 public hearing, written comments can be submitted until Wednesday, Dec. 17. Comments can be sent to Bill Dermody via email at bill.dermody@ci.stpaul.mn.us or through the mail to 1400 City Hall Annex, 25 W. Fourth St., St. Paul.

Information about the amendment to the city’s Gold Line Station Area Plan can be found at www.stpaul.gov/GoldLineSAP or by calling Dermody at 651-266-6617.

To share feedback on the Sun Ray station, go to www.thegatewaycorridor.com. More information about the project can also be found at www.metrotransit.org/gold-line-project.

 

–Marjorie Otto can be reached at 651-748-7816 or at eastside@lillienews.com. Follow her on Twitter at @EastSideM_Otto.

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