The express-bus transit building will provide green features and will open the door to redevelopment, officials say.
Late next summer a transit station will open in Newport as one stop on the proposed 30-mile Red Rock Corridor connecting the southeastern suburbs to St. Paul and Minneapolis. An open house will be held Wednesday on the design.
Commuters will be able to park in a 200-stall lot and hop aboard express buses. Officials plan to build ridership for the corridor, which is being designed to later add commuter rail on existing freight train tracks.
Officials hope to open the transit-building project for bids by November and begin construction early next year, said Newport City Administrator Brian Anderson.
"A lot of people said they'll believe it when they see it, and in a little more than a year, they should see it," he said. "It's good for the community and we're excited."
The transit station project will include sidewalks and bike trails along Maxwell Avenue and 21st Street, a solar-powered electric-vehicle charging station, a senior housing development, a public plaza and gathering space with benches, drinking fountains, bike repair and a bike rack.
Lions Park, the Mississippi River and Tinucci's restaurant are in the area, which county officials plan to designate as a tax-increment financing district. The project involves demolishing existing buildings, constructing the transit building and paving the park-and-ride lot.
The Red Rock Corridor is to begin in Hastings, with stops in Cottage Grove, Newport and Lower Afton Road in St. Paul before connecting to St. Paul's Union Depot, the University of Minnesota and the downtown Minneapolis Interchange Station. Future plans call for extending the corridor into Goodhue County.
The new transit station will be similar to one in Forest Lake, said Andy Gitzlaff, senior planner for Washington County. A 1,500-square-foot enclosed glass structure will serve as the terminal, surrounded by a canopy extending out several feet from the building, bringing the facility's size to 3,000 square feet, he said.
The building will have bathrooms, security and climate-controlled waiting area, and it will be located near a trailhead used by bicyclists who may want to catch a bus.
The bigger Red Rock Gateway redevelopment project in Newport is the first phase of efforts to transform an aging industrial area into a cohesive, transit-oriented development, Anderson said.
The city applied this month for a $3 million federal Livable Communities Grant administered by the Metropolitan Council. A developer included a letter proposing a senior housing development.
That's one of three developers expressing interest in building senior housing on the 9.5 acres where Knox Lumber once operated, west of Hwy. 61 and between Maxwell Avenue and 21st Street, Anderson said.
Staff writer Tim Harlow contributed to this story.
Joy Powell 651-925-5038