Scott County unhappy with busway station plans

  • Article by: DAVID PETERSON , Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 5, 2013 - 11:05 PM

Station locations planned for the rapid busway make little sense to residents, but they get schooled a bit as well.

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The new Cedar Avenue bus-rapid-transit buses feature level boarding, offering a similar experience to that of light rail trains.

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Days after the state’s first-ever Bus Rapid Transit line was launched along Cedar Avenue, a roomful of transportation insiders gathered late last week to help decide what a whole system of lines just like it should look like, flung all across the Twin Cities.

Not surprisingly, the table peopled by folks from Scott and Carver counties was the most jampacked and apparently the most plagued by objections — so much so that it kept the rest of the room waiting.

They wanted to know:

• Why do draft plans call for a station on Hwy. 169 at Pioneer Trail, north of the river, when there are masses of jobs on Old Shakopee Road in Bloomington?

• Why is no station being proposed for 169 and County Road 83 — the most logical jumping-off point to Mystic Lake Casino, the county’s biggest jobs hub — as well as Canterbury Park?

• And why are the two stations that are proposed for Scott County — at Stagecoach and Marschall Roads — being treated as questionable stepchildren, with nothing like the emphatic endorsement of all the other stations along 169?

“Can we see the data that goes along with this?” asked Shakopee Mayor Brad Tabke, who was told yes, eventually, but not yet.

Across the table were staff and consultants for the Metropolitan Council, leading a so-called Highway Transitway Corridor Study that is examining eight potential busway lines around the metro.

One would run out Hwy. 212 and could be an option for some Scott commuters — especially if, as Carver County officials suggested, the busway were extended to the city of Carver, which is getting a new transit station for express service.

The answer to the Scott folks’s first two questions was a lot of scribbling and chin-stroking and “hmmm, good point.”

The answer to the third one, though, was to challenge them right back.

Officials from Metro Transit and others reminded the locals that communities need to be willing to plan for some serious residential and jobs density — numbers often resisted by newer suburbs — if they are going to justify 16 hours a day of costly service at 15-minute intervals.

“We’re not pushing this on people,” said Metro Transit planner Adam Harrington. “But it is a trade-off” they need to consider.

A key Scott County transportation official, Lisa Freese, agreed.

“Our communities have to ask, ‘Are you willing to develop at more density?’ Shakopee in particular,” being right along the highway. “You have undeveloped land; are you willing to sit down as a community and think about that?”

Tabke pointed out that plans are afoot for lots of additional jobs along the highway.

“As Emerson happens, that’s a huge job center right there, and there’s a big hospital nearby,” he said before the meeting. “Yes, we’re at the edge of things, but with another 100,000 people headed for Scott County by 2030, you need to plan for that. That’s one of the talking points we’ve come here with.”

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