Buses or trains would encourage job growth, political and business leaders say.
The folks in the east metro vow they will no longer be left behind in the region's race for public transit.
In a show of strength Monday in Woodbury, several political and business leaders announced the beginning of a two-year study to determine how buses and trains might use a "Gateway Corridor" running along Interstate 94 from the Twin Cities to Eau Claire, Wis.
"You can't grow jobs, you can't attract businesses when we're in gridlock," said state Sen. Kathy Saltzman, DFL-Woodbury. She and others said an estimated 90,000 vehicles a day travel I-94 in the east metro, building to about 150,000 a day near downtown St. Paul.
The $1.5 million "alternatives analysis" study will start in September.
It will examine potential ridership, whether trains or buses would work best, where transit lines would be, what it would cost, and what residents think should be done, said Ted Schoenecker, a Washington County transportation planning engineer.
East-metro leaders see the Gateway Corridor as a vital link between Union Depot and the Central Corridor train line in St. Paul and potential new transit lines in western Wisconsin.
Political leaders include Mayor Chris Coleman of St. Paul, Commissioner Rafael Ortega of Ramsey County, City Council Member Paul Rebholz of Woodbury, and State Rep. Julie Bunn, DFL-Lake Elmo.
Gary Kriesel, a Washington County commissioner, said that the corridor "has significant local business support" from major companies including Hartford Financial, Imation, Anderson Windows and 3M.
Money for the study is coming from Washington County's portion of the metro-wide Counties Transit Improvement Board, the Ramsey County Regional Rail Authority, the Metropolitan Council and from federal funds.
Members of the Gateway Corridor Commission say they would like an I-94 transit line operational by 2022.
Kevin Giles • 651-735-3342