Apple Valley won't pay for skyway

  • Article by: LAURIE BLAKE , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 17, 2012 - 2:35 PM

The 147th Street Cedar busway station will be built without a pedestrian bridge, but one may be added later.

The Apple Valley City Council had no trouble deciding last week that the city wouldn't pay $2 million for an enclosed pedestrian bridge over Cedar Avenue at the 147th Street busway station.

The news that the city would have to shell out $1 million to operate and maintain the skyway over the next 17 years cemented the decision.

"It's just too much. We don't have it," Council Member Tom Goodwin said.

The decision means the station will be built without the skyway, an outcome that Apple Valley leaders say will endanger bus riders crossing the busy road and detract from the user-friendliness of the metro area's first bus-rapid-transit line, scheduled to open along Cedar next spring.

After protesting the omission of the bridge in the plan for the station by the Metropolitan Council, the city was told that if it wanted the skyway, it could pay for it.

Construction bids last week outlined the cost of building two stations -- at 140th Street and 147th Street -- for the $111.5 million transitway.

Building the two stations will cost $3.6 million, and the skyway at 147th would have added an additional $2.1 million.

Originally both stops, which will be walk-up stations without parking lots, were in line for the kind of swoop-roofed, glass-walled skyway that crosses Cedar at the Apple Valley Transit Station near 155th Street and Cedar.

But the size of the stations was reduced based on the latest ridership projections and new regional transitway guidelines approved by the Met Council. The county expects 111 riders on an average workday at 140th Street and 207 at 147th when the line opens.

Under a previous contract, stations were built at the Mall of America in Bloomington, Cedar Grove in Eagan and the Apple Valley station.

The city initially had opposed the 147th Street skyway and a year later decided it was needed.

"I believe we are paying a dear price" for not accepting the offer in the beginning, Council Member John Bergman said.

Believing now that the skyway is critical to promote development around the stations and make them safe and convenient, Apple Valley was considering putting up city funds to get the skyway built now instead of in a later phase, as the Met Council intends.

If the city had footed the bill and average annual weekday boardings had reached 600, the city would have been reimbursed for the cost. But Council Member Clint Hooppaw said he doubted the station would reach that level of ridership.

Council Member Ruth Grendahl said not having a skyway is a "big disappointment."

Without a skyway, people will have to walk a half-block from the station to a traffic signal at the corner to cross nine lanes of Cedar. "It's really impractical," Mayor Mary Hamann-Roland said. "People aren't going to do that.

"I'm concerned people will want to cut over," she said. "... It's just human nature."

Goodwin said the city should press now to try to make the crossings safer by putting in islands for people who cannot make it across the street before the light turns.

Laurie Blake • 952-746-3287

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