City is eager for a visible, centrally located transit parking downtown.
After 21 years as a sustaining member of the south suburban Minnesota Valley Transit Authority (MVTA), Rosemount might next year see its first transit improvement: a downtown park-and-ride bus stop next to city hall.
So eager is the city for the 102-space parking lot that council members have agreed to advance a $750,000 loan to try to get construction of the $1.7 million project started a year early, in 2012.
Federal funding in the amount the city has offered to advance has been promised for the project in 2013.
"We have been looking for more and better service for a long time," said City Administrator Dwight Johnson.
While MVTA transit stations and park-and-ride lots have been built in Burnsville, Apple Valley, Eagan and Savage -- the other sustaining members of the transit authority -- Rosemount has waited because other transportation projects ranked higher for federal funds.
"It wasn't until about a year and a half ago that we got any service to Minneapolis at all," Johnson said.
The park-and-ride lot, which would be built on city-owned land at W. 45th Street and Burnley Avenue, will include a passenger shelter with restrooms, lighting, landscaping and sidewalks.
Burnley will be partially reconstructed to add bump outs on the east side of the street long enough to load and unload three regular-sized buses.
The city and transit authority are counting on the visibility of the park-and-ride lot and the regularity of service to attract new transit riders from Rosemount.
The spot -- which is in view of city hall -- will be centrally located and easily identified as the transit hub of the community, said Mayor Bill Droste.
The city is working on a senior housing project that will be about a block and a half from the transit stop, he said.
The park-and-ride lot will give transit new visibility, said Robin Selvig, customer relations manager for the MVTA.
Although the MVTA offers service to the community center, Rosemount residents "don't see our buses as much as some of the other communities -- there isn't a Cedar Avenue corridor going right through the community."
Route 478 buses make three express trips in the morning from the community center to downtown Minneapolis and four trips home in the evening.
Those buses provided 11,727 rides from January to October, up from 8,985 from January to October 2010, Selvig said.
The trip from the community center along 145th Street to S. Robert Trail to McAndrews Road to Cedar Avenue to Crosstown Hwy. 62 to Interstate Hwy. 35W into downtown takes about 42 minutes in the morning and about 48 minutes at night, Selvig said. People use the time to relax, read, listen to music or talk softly on the phone, she said.
"We have long been trying to get a park-and-ride in Rosemount," Selvig said. The transit authority applied four times for federal air pollution reduction funds before the project was finally approved, she said.
"It's a competitive process; everybody is fighting for the limited federal dollars that we get." Before the last round, "it never scored high enough to make the cut."
An application entered in 2009 won funding for 2013.
Now the MVTA is working with the state Department of Transportation to try to advance the project to next year if another approved project is not ready to go, Selvig said. "There is optimism that that can happen but there are no final details yet."
Rosemount is expecting to hear by March 1, Johnson said.
Laurie Blake • 952-746-3287