Rush Line Corridor options narrowed

The Rush Line Corridor Policy Advisory Committee on Nov. 19 approved four transit vehicle and route alternatives for additional study.

Of the recommended transit vehicle and route alternatives, only one extends all the way to Forest Lake from Union Depot in Saint Paul. Jobs, housing, regional connectivity and the number of activity centers is highest overall in the southern end of the corridor.

Following the Policy Advisory Committee’s approval, the Rush Line study will move into a comprehensive review of the narrowed alternatives. The next phase of study will evaluate ridership, costs, station locations, frequency of service and environmental impacts.

The Rush Line Corridor is an 80-mile travel corridor between St. Paul and Hinckley, consisting of 23 urban, suburban and rural communities linked by a common need to be mobile and connected. A pre-project development study is underway to analyze bus and rail alternatives in the Rush Line Corridor between Forest Lake and Union Depot in downtown St. Paul. The study will identify a transit vehicle and route option for adoption as the corridor’s locally preferred alternative.

Community preferences

The additional study will include several modifications made to the initial recommended transit vehicle and route alternatives based on an extensive community-input process. Additions include:

• Reviewing hybrid rail solutions that include smaller vehicles.

• Reviewing utilization of a shared guideway through constrained right-of-way areas.

• Additional study of a dedicated bus rapid transit/light rail alternative to connect Phalen Village and downtown White Bear Lake (generally along White Bear Avenue) as a potential alternative to the County/Rail right-of-way.

• Including more defined impacts to natural environment and cultural resources.

More than 850 people participated in 40 community engagement events such as pop-up meetings, formal open houses and business presentations during the first phase of study. Community members expressed a wide range of preferences for transit vehicles and routes. Preferences include all-day service, cost-effective options, preserving natural spaces, minimizing impacts on personal property and businesses, and connecting people to businesses, services, jobs and education.

Next steps

Next steps for the study include establishing a stakeholder group to help identify downtown route options. A developer roundtable will seek input related to job access and economic development opportunities on transit vehicle and route options. Public engagement will continue throughout the entire study.

Transit vehicle and route alternatives recommended for further study include:

• Dedicated guideway bus rapid transit (BRT) on County/Rail right-of-way between Saint Paul and Forest Lake.

• Light rail transit (LRT) or diesel multiple unit (DMU) on County/Rail right-of-way between Saint Paul and White Bear Lake.

• Arterial bus rapid transit (BRT) generally along White Bear Avenue between Saint Paul and White Bear Lake.

• Dedicated guideway BRT/LRT between Phalen Village and downtown White Bear Lake, generally along White Bear Avenue.

Community members who are interested in learning more or providing input should contact Deputy Project Manager Andy Gitzlaff at 651-266-2772 or [email protected]​.