The three-story parking ramp at the Apple Valley Transit Station is about to get taller.
On Wednesday, the Minnesota Valley Transit Authority (MVTA) board of directors is expected to sign off on plans to add two more levels to the parking structure to accommodate demand at the busy south-metro park-and-ride.
The $8 million makeover would add about 375 parking spaces, a second elevator, LED lighting and additional security cameras. The expansion would include accessibility improvements at main entrance points and a new facade on the structure. A combination of federal funding and money from the Metropolitan Council, the transit agency and Dakota County would pay for the project.
“There is a big need [for more parking],” said transit agency spokesman Richard Crawford.
If approved, construction would begin in June, and the station would have more than 1,100 parking spaces available when the project is finished in December, Crawford said.
Opened in 2009, the Apple Valley Transit Station on Cedar Avenue at 155th Street is one of the most used in the metro area. On many days, the ramp with 768 parking spots is at or near capacity. Nearby overflow lots are often used to meet demand, Crawford said.
Last year, more than 668,000 passengers began or ended their trips at the station, which is served by six local and express bus lines that provide rides to neighboring suburbs and to downtown Minneapolis and St. Paul. The Metro Red Line providing bus rapid-transit service from Apple Valley to the Mall of America also stops at the station.
According to the Met Council’s 2018 report on metro-area park-and-ride usage, more than 96% of spaces at the Apple Valley Transit Station are occupied daily. That was down slightly from 2016, when 99% of spaces were occupied each day, but it was still one of the highest occupancy rates among all park-and-rides in the Twin Cities.
When construction is complete, Crawford said the MVTA would like to add additional service from the transit station, particularly on express Route 477 to downtown Minneapolis, the agency’s second-busiest bus line. With more service, the extra parking capacity will be needed, Crawford said.
During construction, park-and-ride users will be directed to alternate parking at the old transit station lot on Gaslight Avenue and two temporary lots, one across the street from the current transit station and another a block to the east of Cedar on W. 155th Street.
Pilot begins on Route 477
MVTA Route 477 express buses will no longer stop north of Washington Avenue in downtown Minneapolis. The change, which will affect the express route starting Monday, is part of a pilot project to see if eliminating stops at S. 1st and 2nd streets will help on-time performance.
The northbound buses arrive downtown and travel on S. 2nd Avenue. Southbound buses departing downtown operate on Marquette Avenue. Buses in both directions had crossed Washington Avenue, and that is where they went off schedule.
“That area north of Washington is very congested and our buses get hung up there,” Crawford said. “We are trying to avoid that area and see if that has a significant impact on schedule reliability.”
While Crawford doesn’t expect that to be a cure-all for late buses, if there is enough improvement the pilot could be tried on other express routes downtown, he said.
Follow news about traffic and commuting at The Drive on startribune.com. Got traffic or transportation questions, or story ideas? E-mail email@example.com, tweet @stribdrive or call Tim Harlow at 612-673-7768.